Landowner offers stewardship of Elmore Hall
July 16, 2020
The landowner on whose property the Elmore polling station sits has offered to take ownership of the building to maintain it for public use. The 432 square foot hall was gifted to the county in 1981 and has been used as a polling place since that time.
“As you know, it’s been the polling place forever…the Policky ranch has been maintaining it,” Tess Policky told the county commissioners last week.
According to Policky, the family has already been taking care of trash, repainting and reporting abandoned vehicles, among other things.
“We are just looking to take ownership of it and keep maintaining it so we can take care of the abandoned vehicles more quickly and maybe put a dumpster out there,” she said.
Policky expressed that it makes sense for someone who lives there and drives by every day and is already taking care of the building to assume ownership. She stressed that the intention is not to take it away from the community, but to take better care of it.
“We don’t want it to fall apart,” she said.
County Clerk Linda Fritz questioned whether it would still be possible to use the hall as a polling station during elections. Without that, she said, it would be necessary to go through the redistricting process and potentially split the 294 registered voters in district 12-12 between two other polling places.
Policky agreed that she would be open to having this included in the proposal. Commissioner Kelly Dennis noted that the county usually pays a small rental fee when using a community building for this purpose.
County Attorney Joe Baron cautioned that Policky should investigate the cost of liability insurance, as it might be more expensive than she realizes. He suggested that the county has an agreement with other polling stations for groups or citizens to manage and run them, which could also be done in this case and would provide Policky with coverage and governmental immunity as a county volunteer.
Policky, however, said she had already investigated this issue and found she is able to add the building to the insurance at her bed and breakfast on the same land.
Some discussion was held about the alternative possibilities for the building; Commissioner Fred Devish suggested, for example, that the county could choose to pursue a path such as to replace it with a fire hall that could also be used as a polling place. The building itself could also be moved off the land, said Fritz.
As the county would potentially be giving its property to a private citizen, Baron advised informing the public and gauging the response. Policky offered to prepare a petition of local constituents; she agreed to bring this, as well as a determination of fair market value and a written proposal before the commission in the near future so that discussions can be held on the best path forward.