Spain House contract hits snag

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A sticking point in the contract to relinquish city ownership of the historic Spain House to the Tupelo Historic Preservation Society leaves the agreement uncertain.
While the contract to transfer ownership of the house and property on South Church Street appears on today’s City Council agenda, debate Monday raises doubts if the council and nonprofit organization can agree on legal language related to the city’s liability in any future lawsuit.
The Spain House, a National Register of Historic Places property, was owned by Calvary Baptist Church but deeded to the city of Tupelo and moved from West Main Street to South Church Street in December. City and civic efforts have led to plans to make the house and property home to the Tupelo Historic Preservation Society.
However, a dispute Monday between Historic Preservation Society founding member Doyce Deas and city attorney John Hill and City Council members led to questions related completing the transaction.
Hill insisted that the contract include language that removes the city of any liability for the house and property, including statements that require the historical group pay any insurance deductible payments on behalf of the city if a third party names it as part of a lawsuit related to the property.
Currently, the city’s legal insurance deductible is $5,000 and could increase in future years.
Deas said the historic preservation society couldn’t accept this part of the contract.
“I’m just telling you that the (historic preservation society) is not signing this,” Deas said during the Monday meeting at City Hall to review the agenda before today’s City Council meeting.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com