With the controversy of the Town of Hillsville’s reported interest in the Bottle House garnering attention since an April 23 meeting, the daughter of John and Ella Fulcher has decided to speak up on the subject.
Mary Fulcher Hulen, who lives in North Carolina, said her deceased parents would have been proud to know that the Town of Hillsville is interested in preserving the Bottle House located on the property at 1551 N. Main Street. But she takes issue with the fact that citizen Jody Early brought the subject to light at the April 23 meeting of the Hillsville Town Council when it had not even been discussed in open session, and again by citizen Nancy Beasley at a May 14 meeting.
“First of all, Mr. Early was well aware that neither he, nor any other citizen, has a right to address the Council on a matter that has not even been placed on the Council agenda per recommendation of the Executive Committee of the Council. He was well aware that he was speaking out of order and in the normal course of events should not have been given the time to speak on a matter not yet even agreed to by the Committee,” Hulen said. “Procedural rules are there for a purpose and not to be used as some self-interest would dictate. I am sure readers are aware of, and expect, an orderly manner of conducting business in Council meetings.”
Hulen said her family was contacted to inquire of its interest in the possible ownership by the Town of the property. She said the family had not even thought about the possibility of public ownership. The family had set no figure on a possible sale as they were waiting to hear of any interest from Hillsville’s Town Council. She said there is a tax value of the property and there has been a private appraisal, neither of which she said would necessarily be a market reality. Hulen said the family was unaware that the Town was interesting in making an offer of up to $275,000 as Early claimed in the April 30 meeting.
“Where did Mr. Early get his information? Mrs. Beasley further elaborated on the subject (not yet even brought before the Council) at the following meeting on May 14,” Hulen said. “Her concerns (regarding) the ‘return on investment’ seem out of place when the subject is preservation of, and access to, a possible public historic site, if that is in fact how the Council views the property. Do public parks have a ‘return on investment?’ Of course a commercial tourist site has to consider such a return. But that is not my understanding of why there was interest in the property and the Bottle House specifically. And it was because of the Town’s interest in preservation and public access that I feel my parents, as native and lifelong residents, would have been very pleased and honored to have the Town as owner. So for that reason I have offered and conveyed to the Council my wish to make a donation to the Town in honor of my parents. I understand that even so there is not sufficient public interest (none has come openly to the Council’s attention, but then the matter is not even officially before the Council).”
As far as zoning and driveway access concerns expressed by Beasley, Hulen said such matters could be solved if there is indeed interest from the Town in the property. But she thought the airing of such concerns by both citizens were too early to be brought up publically.
“It would seem to me that the premature speechifying by Mr. Early has precluded orderly procedure and consideration by the Council. He had every right to make his objections known in public hearings, and I would have been interested in hearing them at the appropriate time,” Hulen said. “If indeed there is public interest my family would like to know of it. We plan to sell the property, hopefully to someone who will show it privately to interested parties, as my parents so frequently did. They felt many times that public interest overrode their own convenience, and therefore rarely, if ever, turned away an interested party. I hope their spirit can be preserved.”