The Baldwin County Wilderness Facility will soon be completely in private hands after the Baldwin County Commission voted unanimously March 20 to sell the property to Pathway Inc.
Pathway had been leasing and operating the facility for over a year after the commission expressed a desire to have a private company take over operations.
County Attorney David Connor said Pathway had offered to purchase the property in a deal worth $4.9 million and said Pathway had been a good partner with the county.
“We feel pretty confident because they have been operating the program for over a year,” Connor said. “They also have plans to expand the program.”
The facility had previously been a source of controversy for the county, after an alleged attack on one of the facility’s workers by one of the juveniles housed there in late 2015.
At the time Pathway took over the running of the Wilderness Camp from the county, county officials estimated the county could see more than $1 million a year in savings from that deal.
County Commission Chairman Frank Burt said the sale would be a positive for the county.
“This is an outstanding transaction for us and for Pathway,” Burt said. “It’s unbelievable the improvement that has been made in the past year or so there.”
County Commissioner Chris Elliott was not present for the vote because of his travels to Washington DC to help lobby for the I-10 bridge project, but said he certainly would have voted for the sale.
Elliott said the sale of the Wilderness Facility had been something he had been pushing for since he came on to the commission.
“This has saved the taxpayers of Baldwin County in terms of capital outlay and ongoing costs to the general fund budget, and allows us to recoup some of the money that was spent years ago,” Elliott said. “We’ve been able to reduce employees while still providing the same services through a private entity for the people who need it. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”