COPPERAS COVE — Several board members from the Boys & Girls Club of Copperas Cove came before the council Monday to discuss leasing city-owned property at Ogletree Gap for new facilities.
Before any party could write up a lease agreement, however, council members unanimously determined it was the nonprofit organization’s responsibility to foot legal fees associated with the possible lease.
“First of all, we have to figure out if it is even legal for the city to lease the property,” said City Manager Andrea Gardner, explaining the first step of the process to council members.
Gardner said the issue was more complex than simply sitting down and speaking with the club’s board members because Ogletree Gap property was dedicated parkland. So, the city’s legal team would first have to determine if the property could even be leased.
The research, the possible special election if the city was required to have voters approve the lease and the lease agreement itself were all parts of the process the city or the organization would have to pay for, she said.
“There is a possibility that if the body decides to do (the research) and cover all the legal expenses, then we can have other organizations step forward and expect the same thing. Before you know it, we’ve encountered an awful amount of legal expenses,” she said, explaining that many of the city’s legal expenses were beyond staff control.
Sandy Vegh, a Boys & Girls Club of Copperas Cove board member, said the group was looking to relocate to a place more accessible to the public while also forgoing occupying valuable, more centralized city property.
He said he had never heard of clubs in other areas having to jump through so many hoops or legal paperwork to get a lease approved.
“Where we are right now, it’s out of the city limits, it’s too far to go, and the lease is up in two years,” Vegh said, explaining the group wanted to start raising money for a new building once a lease agreement was reached.
The club is at 2777 Farm-to-Market 166 near Hillside Evangelical Methodist Church. All Boys & Girls Clubs are nonprofits and do not pay property taxes.
Gardner said that while similar lease agreements were made with the city in the past, they were revised because the city’s current legal team did not believe they protect Copperas Cove’s interests enough.
The city’s legal team will give an estimate of expenses to the Boys & Girls Club, Gardner said. If the expenses are too high, the project might be out of the club’s grasp, Vegh said.