Donation of former McDonald’s building not so ‘golden’

By HASKEL BURNS,

The fate of the former McDonald’s building on East Central Avenue in Petal is still up in the air, at least for the time being.

The Petal Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to deny owner David McKellar’s proposed donation of the property to the city, with Mayor Hal Marx suggesting the city would have no use for the building.

“I know it’s got some issues perhaps where it needs to be renovated or repaired,” Marx said. “I’d just hate for the city to have to take on the expense when we don’t have any use for it. I’d rather see it stay a commercial property, and eventually have a business in it that generates tax revenue.”

Marion Sims, assistant chief of the Petal Fire Department, had proposed that the city accept the former McDonald’s location, at which point he would put forth the idea of the Petal Library moving into that location. That move would free up space at the current library location at Petal Civic Center, allowing the fire department to use that site for living quarters for firefighters.

“With all the extra space that they actually do have in the library, that (McDonald’s) would be a good location, there by the (middle) school,” Sims said. “But I’ve still got a lot of paperwork to do, to see if that would even be feasible.”

But Marx said that idea was unlikely to ever happen.

“I don’t know all the specifics, but I do know that (civic center) was built through a bond, with taxes of course,” Marx said. “Half of it was supposed to be designated to the library, and half for the civic center, and I’m not sure if they’re going to want to give that up.

“But I hate to get tangled up in that – if the gentleman wants to sell it, he needs to find somebody and name a price. Then somebody can buy it and use it for whatever they can, other than what McDonald’s says they can’t (in their contract).”

Sims will address the Forrest County Board of Supervisors in the near future to discuss whether county officials would be willing to take ownership of the building.

“I don’t see that being a city facility, and I don’t think that even (rejecting) it tonight would close the door to you doing something with the county,” Ward 5 Alderman Tony Ducker told Sims. “I’d prefer it to be straight to them, if they wanted to go that route. I don’t see us taking it in any form or fashion.”

Marx said he didn’t want to take the chance of the city accepting the building, only to be unable to do anything with it.

“We have no need for it directly,” he said. “I would rather it stay on the tax rolls and possibly be used commercially to generate more revenue to the city, and for jobs, than for us to have an empty building that we’d be responsible for.”