For more than 30 years the annual Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union car sale has been held in Daleville, the financial organization’s home. It all started in 1984 and apparently, it ended with the 2016 sale in April that saw 16 dealers showcase hundreds of cars, trucks, boats and recreational vehicles at the AACFCU members-only sale. Sale tax profits for the “City of Possibilities” ranges in the tens of thousands annually.
AACFCU President and Chief Executive Officer Bobby Michael asked the Enterprise City Council Jan. 3, for permission to hold the 2017 sale on the grounds of the Enterprise Civic Center April 20-22. Permission was granted.
“As most people know by now, the field in which it (the sale) was held annually, is being developed into new ball fields,” said Daleville Mayor Jayme Stayton. “Land on Industrial Blvd. that did have two ball fields was sold to CSRA. It is my understanding that those fields had to be replaced, due to legal obligations (because of the federal grant used to build the original fields). The field (at Culpepper Park) was the logical choice.”
Stayton said he was made aware that the car sale was likely leaving his city before he was sworn into office in early November and that he immediately began looking for alternative locations within the city to try and stave off the loss of the lucrative sale.
“I got on this right away and met with local landowners and they agreed to provide some alternate locations. I reached out to (AACFCU President) Bobby Michael and offered the locations within Daleville. I know that the previous mayor, Claudia Wigglesworth, also provided an alternate location. Unfortunately, it was felt that these locations could not meet the needs of the car sale and they would relocate it in Enterprise this year.
In a telephone interview, Michael told the Sun-Courier, “We haven’t committed to either location (Enterprise or Daleville) on a long-term basis. We will revisit this after the sale in Enterprise.” The credit union chief said the organization is trying to “do what is best for the dealers, the public and the credit union.”
In a written statement provided to the Sun-Courier, credit union officials said, “We discussed this year’s spring car sale with Mayor Wigglesworth when she was in office and she explained that the area the credit union generally used for the car sale would be under construction with the new baseball fields. In addition, it was mentioned that there would not be sufficient grass in place to prevent substantial mud if it were to rain, which is very likely in the spring.
“It is difficult to ask automobile dealers to put their $25,000 - $75,000 vehicles in a dirt field where the risk of vehicles bogging down is high. In addition, the credit union took into consideration the members and general public and the mud/water hazards that this field would pose on them. Several options were considered, including moving the sale to behind the credit union’s corporate office on Virginia Avenue. However, the amount of land required for the sale was greater than the parcel the credit union owned.
“In addition, Mayor Stayton provided other Daleville tracts of land that were available, however, those tracts had poor visibility (not directly on Daleville Ave. or Highway 84) or did not have adequate egress to accommodate traffic pulling into and out of the sale. The city of Daleville provided several options but unfortunately none of them met every requirement needed for the car sale.”
The credit union’s statement went on to say it was approached by Enterprise officials who offered to “provide land, facilities and are making infrastructure changes to the land adjacent to the (Enterprise Civic Center) to accommodate the sale in 2017. We know this is not ideal for the city of Daleville but a decision needed to be made, as this three-day sale takes several months to plan…”
In the end, Stayton remains hopeful that “Mr. Michael will reconsider the alternate locations, or that some additional locations can be found and move the car sale back (to Daleville) next year, especially since their headquarters is located in Daleville.”
The council and the mayor believe the addition of the two new ball fields at Culpepper Park will lead to tournaments being played in Daleville regularly, thus giving an additional economic punch to the city.
Councilman Scott Moore said he verified with the owner of the land adjacent to the credit union’s operations center and the owner verified that he was more than willing to provide his land cost-free for the credit union sale. Moore said he had understood that the deal to have the car sale there had been worked out long ago, but he also understands the credit union is keeping the door open for subsequent years and he is also confident in the economic boost the new ball fields will bring to the city in the near future via heavily attended tournaments.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Garner said, “Once the new sports complex is complete, I believe Daleville will see recovery of any lost revenue (from the car sale move) and I feel confident that in the coming years, it will exceed the car sales. The Daleville Area Chamber of Commerce is currently working on several projects to bring people to Daleville that showcase what a great community Daleville is. I encourage everyone to stay tuned exciting things are happening in Daleville.”