Board declines to purchase Farquhar parcel

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2008

MONTGOMERY &8212; The Executive Director of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles Cynthia Dillard said the agency will not attempt to purchase any of the property it has expressed interest in at the Farquhar State Cattle Ranch.

Dillard said the parole board is looking to add a technical violator&8217;s center, and it previously considered the structures at the ranch owned by the Alabama Department of Corrections outside of Greensboro for such a purpose. She said she feels the facilitates on located on a 431 acre parcel at the ranch are well suited for the needs of the agency but said capital needed is not currently available to proceed with the planned center.

Dillard said the board would even be willing, in the future, to lease the property of interest if another state agency were to buy the land before the ADOC opened the property for public bids.

The parcel is one of four divisions of the original 3,988 acres of the ranch owned by the ADOC. The Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust has also expressed interest in property at the ranch and has passed a resolution to make an offer on two parcels making up over half of the ranch&8217;s acreage pending a second appraisal of the property due at its Feb. 6 meeting.

ADOC Public Information Manager Brian Corbett said, once the department has completed talks with Forever Wild, Commissioner Richard Allen will tell the State Lands Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to open the remaining two parcels of the property for bids.

Sale background

Gov. Bob Riley and Allen announced their intention to sell the ranch and four other ADOC properties at a July 11 press conference, stating only state lands that were a drain on taxpayers and had a previous interest expressed in their purchase would be sold.

After conflicting figures from the ranch and the ADOC shed doubt on the financial viability of the ranch, Rep. Ralph Howard D-Greensboro, has worked to stop the sale and find ways to increase its profitability.

Riley and Allen said money generated by the sale of the ranch and the four other properties listed at the press conference would go toward the more than $90 million in capital improvement projects for Alabama Department of Corrections facilities.

Riley and Allen said originally said all property that will be sold will be appraised, advertised and sold to the highest bidder.

Forever Wild Background

FWLT was established in 1992 after a state constitutional amendment was passed by an 83-percent vote &8212; the largest margin of any land trust amendment in any southeastern state. The lands are managed under a multiple use management principle to ensure all resources &8212; including recreation, hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, aesthetics, soil, water, forests and minerals &8212; are protected or enhanced. The State Lands Division must write a management plan that is presented to the board for approval within one year of property purchase.