The Missoula City Council is voting on Monday night on the purchase of the Sleepy Inn motel, a proposal that seems to have a polarizing effect on the community.
The city of Missoula hopes to purchase the Sleepy Inn motel to use as a tool against the spread of COVID-19 here in the area.
"If we have the right tools in place so we can quarantine people who need to be quarantined who don't have resources on their own to do that then we are going to be able to hopefully manage those numbers and keep our economy open." Gwen Jones, Missoula City Council Vice President, said.
Opponents say with low positive case numbers in the area, there is no need for the purchase and it is not money well spent.
"I say we have no need for it right now," Missoula City Council member Jesse Ramos said. "Missoula has (38 total) cases last I heard there was less than 6 hospitalizations right now the hospitals are basically empty. You talk to anyone who works at a hospital and their occupancy rates are historically low. There is no demand for this."
Price has also been said to be an issue from opposition.
Opponents say hotel values are dropping and that crime in the area will drive the value down and so will the hotel itself. An inspection of the motel turned up unsanitary conditions.
"All signs point to that property going down in value not up," Ramos added.
Opponents also argue that six years ago the hotel was listed for $675,000, well below the current $1.1 million price tag from the city, but proponents of the purchase say a lot has changed in six years.
"So the number that has been bandied around is $675,000 dollars which is what that property was offered for in 2013," Jones said.
She also added that was seven years ago and anyone in the area knows property values have sky-rocketed since then.
"The value on the property it seems way too high. There is people saying that it is the right price but the fact of the matter is that nobody knows," Ramos said.
So why not have the property appraised? Due to the emergency nature, an appraisal in this time frame was deemed not possible, but Jones says there has been one estimate they view as fair.
"I do know that a commercial Realtor in town, Julie Gardner, did a very thoughtful email regarding the pricing on this," Jones said. "My takeaway was $1.1 million may not be a for-sale price but neither are we getting gouged. Its a fair price."
Ramos says that in the time since the sale has got going there has been plenty of time to get the property appraised before the vote on Monday.
Despite the Missoula City Council Chambers being closed due to the COVID-19 virus you can still call in or email your comments to the city council meeting while it is going on. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.