Former Pulaski employee could lose home on town property

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 10:32 PM EDT
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PULASKI, Va. (WDBJ) -A former Town of Pulaski employee could be losing his home after 40 years.

The discussion comes after town staff learned he had been living on the property rent-free that entire time.

The land issue came to council after someone filed a complaint about how badly the tennis courts at Macgill Park had been maintained. After Interim Town Manager Darlene Burcham went out to look at them, she learned there was a house smack dab in the middle of the 10-acre property.

“Council’s interest is only in the citizens of Pulaski,” said Vice Mayor Brooks Dawson. “This is their property.”

It’s a property Gary Martin has called home for 40 years.

“He built me a lot, set my trailer up for me and it would be a forever home as long as I wanted to stay here,” Martin said. “It was all done handshake, buddy-wise like you did in the old days.”

Martin said he and a former head of public works had an agreement that he could live on the land if he looked after and maintained it.

“It was in the contract that when I retire I either move or try to make a deal to buy the land,” Martin said.

This contract is the only sort of paperwork the town said it has been able to find after Martin produced it for them. Leadership said that deal expired when Martin retired at the end of 2015, so they sent him a letter to relocate in 30 days.

“It hard for them, but I think in the long run they now can come to us, we can talk,” said Mayor Shannon Collins.

The family had a chance to talk at Tuesday night’s work session, but no one showed up until after the meeting.

“It’s a 40-year lifetime home, it’s not something that they just popped up there,” Martin’s former wife Bobbie Williams said.

His family surrounded the mayor after the council work session.

“I’m willing to buy,” Martin said. “I just want to buy this little spot where my double wide sits on so I don’t have to pay so much to get it moved.”

“On my watch I’m going to make sure that it is done legally and fairly for everyone involved,” Collins said.

That 30 days to relocate is coming up Thursday, but the mayor said they have no plans to push him out then; they just want to have a discussion to figure out what to do now.

Ultimately, this is property owned by the town, so the people and town council will have to come to a decision.

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