LUMBERTON — The Lumberton City Council on Wednesday decided to enlist an historical organization to see if the city’s old fire station on Second Street can be preserved.
The council voted in favor of a motion by Councilman John Cantey, who represents the district in which the old station is located, that the city use the services of Preservation North Carolina to find private developers interested in purchasing the building and renovating it in such a way as to maintain its historic integrity.
North Carolina Preservation helps local government agencies find new uses for surplus historic property. Under state law, local governments can sell historic properties to nonprofit preservation organizations at a negotiated price, rather than going through the normal bidding process. The nonprofit can then dispose of the property as long as protective covenants are incorporated into the transfer.
Brandon Love, the city’s Planning director, told council that North Carolina Preservation can help the city find developers interested in renovating the building.
“We want the historic value of that building kept,” Councilman Leon Maynor said.
The City Council earlier this year voted to raze the building, saying that it was in disrepair and renovations would be too costly, as much as $500,000. After a public outcry that included a petition drive, the council on April 15 reversed its decision.
The council on Wednesday also agreed to a request from Rob Armstrong, the Public Works director, that a no-interest emergency loan of $493,800 be obtained from the N.C. Clean Water State Revolving Fund for sewer work.
Armstrong said that during the funding phase of the sewer rehabilitation project in Tanglewood area, there were two “major collapses” of concrete sewer pipes in an area of the sewer system that serves Robeson Community College and Mayfair.
“We believe further collapses are probable,” he said.
Armstrong said the emergency loan is needed because the funding agency for the Tanglewood project, N.C. Clean Water State Revolving Loan and Infrastructure Finance, would not allow the city to combine funding for any other project with the Tanglewood funding.
In other business, the council on Wednesday:
— Agreed to give the Lumberton Police Department permission to accept a motorcycle donation from National Insurance Crime Bureau. The motorcycle will be used for undercover work, investigations, traffic enforcement and other means of law enforcement.
— Granted permission for the Lumberton Fire Department to enter into a mutual-aid services agreement with the Raft Swamp Fire Department.
— Tabled until next month the hiring of a consultant to assist the city in preparing a new comprehensive land use plan.
— Approved purchasing of metal shelving for the new Lumberton Police Department from Patterson-Pope. The cost of the contract is $98,652. The purchase agreement was approved despite some concerns about the bidding process raised by Councilman Eric Hackney.
— Passed a resolution requesting that the state not close the Robeson County Correctional Center, a minimum security prison that would be shut down on Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget.
— Set a meeting for Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the city’s 2013-14 budget.