February 4, 2009
JACKSON -- State lawmakers are working to give Mississippi University for Women permission to sell the 47-year-old Carrier Lodge, an off-campus recreational and overnight facility that the school says has outlived its usefulness.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved the bill requested by MUW and sent it to the full House for approval.
MUW Vice President Nora Miller said Carrier is not being used much and could be sold to generate much-needed cash for the school.
"Looking at the budget reductions we are facing this year, combined with future rebalancing, we need to focus on what is most important for our students and our academic programs," Miller said.
MUW''s Plymouth Bluff Education Center is a newer and better gathering place than Carrier, Miller said.
"Plymouth Bluff provides us with more opportunities for meeting and recreational space and allows us to generate revenue for cabin rentals and other facilities use," she said.
"In recent years we have had some security problems with events at Carrier Lodge, and patrolling Carrier Lodge at night and on weekends reduced our police coverage here on campus."
Overlooking the old Tombigbee River, Carrier was built in 1962 as recreational and dining facility with sleeping quarters. However, it''s mainly just used now for social-club meetings when other space on the MUW campus isn''t available, Miller said.
Plymouth Bluff, built in 1995, is also on the Tombigbee and has an auditorium, dining center and cabins.
State universities are required to get the Legislature''s permission to sell property. House Bill 415 would let the state sell Carrier Lodge on behalf of MUW and give it the money it brings.
"We want to go ahead and get legislative authority so that if anyone made a reasonable offer we would be in a position where we could accept the bid," Miller said.
No estimate has been made yet of the property''s value, Miller said.
If Carrier is put up for sale, MUW must get two appraisals and have the purchase price be at least the average of those values, she said.
Carrier Lodge is adjacent to property owned by Lowndes County Chancery Judge Dorothy Colom and husband Wil Colom.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the bill within the next week. If it passes, it goes to the Senate for consideration. A similar Senate bill allowing MUW and other universities to sell property died in the Senate Public Property Committee.
Tuesday was the deadline for House and Senate committees to pass bills.