Fairmount Place has now become not only a site upon which a disputed structure was to be built but also the subject of how it landed in the hands of the Rescue Ministries. In today’s Journal-Gazette, Tracy Warner details the convoluted journey of the property from the point of its purchase in 1984 as buyouts of flooded homeowners to its present ownership by the Rescue Ministries.
Along the way, taxpayer purchased property that should never have left the hands of the City ended up providing a hefty profit to a private individual, Dyle Hughes, who by some means came into possession of the property in 2002. Warner’s article notes that City officials said they were unclear about the chronology of events that led to a monstrous profit for Mr. Hughes.
And well they should be confused. Public records indicate that Hughes ended up with 14 lots in the 400 block of Fairmount Place with a total assessed value of $37,200. Hughes purchased one lot from Jean Markey as a trustee. But the 400 block of Fairmount Place lots wasn’t the only piece of Fairmount Place that Hughes cornered. He also held 13 lots in the 500 block of Fairmount Place, all originally owned by Housing and Neighborhood. These 13 lots had a total assessed value of $35,000.
The Corps needed access to the St. Marys River in the Fairmount Place area as a part of its flood mitigation projects undertaken after the Flood of ’82. But Hughes owned land that stood in the way of that access. Hughes stated that he suggested a land swap but that the City rejected this form of transfer, so Hughes paid his $8,800 and the Corps gained access to the St. Marys. The transfer of the properties was recorded on August 9, 2002.
My question is this. Why did the Corps need access to the St. Marys River that required so much land that Hughes was able to ultimately snag at least 27 lots on Fairmount Place with a total assessed value of $72,200 for a mere $8,800? The minuscule amount of investment by Hughes turned into an inflated sales price of $525,000.
To add to all this confusion, the properties bear conflicting zoning designations. The “grant deed” dated February 11, 2008, lists 400 Fairmount Place as zoned condominium (residential) while the other lots reflect a residential zoning classification. Only one lot appears to bear a commercial designation and that is the 437 Fairmount Place, the lot owned by Jean Markey and later purchased by Hughes.
The City alleges that property buyouts in the old days did not require that land be left vacant; however, by the time of the Corps’ initiative in 2002 – almost 20 years after the original buyouts – in the Fairmount Place area, the City could surely have insisted that property not be sold to a private investor.
Now, 25 years after the City’s buyout of flooded Fairmount Place properties, those properties have become the focus of questions about just how those properties ended up in the hands of Dyle Hughes for a pittance, and, later, the hands of the Rescue Ministries for a price tag of $525,000 – especially when they should not have been sold at all.