Some Stone Mountain officials and residents would like to use the historic Rock Gym for events and other activities but the city is having a hard time coming to an agreement with the DeKalb County School District.
The school district currently owns the gym, which was once the gym of Stone Mountain High School. The city has been in talks with the school district on a use of facilities agreement. In November, the council approved the agreement for the gym.
At the Feb. 7 city council meeting, City Manager ChaQuias Miller Thornton said the council approved the agreement before knowing the terms of the agreement would be changed by the school district.
“Once we notified the [district] that the council had approved [the agreement] the [district] sent me an amended copy of the terms and conditions,” Thornton said. “Within those terms there are two things that changed.”
One of the terms changed was the amount of money that the city would pay for water usage at the gym, according to Thornton.
“I called the [district] and we got the water stipulation taken care of because there is only one meter,” she said. “So we needed to know how the [district] decides how much water we actually use.”
The other change made to the agreement was the addition of a medical liability insurance clause. Thornton said the district said that they would take the medical insurance stipulation off because the city already has general liability insurance.
“With taking the medical insurance requirement off, they decided to add an indemnity clause that would state that the city is responsible for anything that happens because of the condition of the gym,” she said. “We all know the condition the gym is in.
I thought that would be a lot of responsibility for the city to take on under the lease agreement.”
“It’s up to the council whether you want to agree to the terms with the indemnity clause in it, which pretty much states that we’re liable if any damage, death, injury or anything happens because of the condition of the gym in or around the premises,” she said.
If an accident happens in the gym’s parking lot or on the surrounding sidewalk, the city could be party to a lawsuit. Thornton said she will ask the school district to remove the indemnity clause from the agreement.
“If that’s not negotiable then I think we need to reconsider use of the building until we can come to some type of consensus,” she said.
The council agreed to table the agreement until they hear back from the school district.
“We have to go back and ask them to remove that, otherwise there is absolutely no way [we can approve this],” Councilman Richard Mailman said.
“I do not think this is a good move for the city to take this on,” Councilwoman Chakira Johnson said. “It’s way too much liability for a piece of property that we have very little control of.”
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