PEMBROKE — The state will not take back the North Carolina Indian Cultural Center from the nonprofit that has leased the property since the mid-1990s — at least not now.
The legislature adjourned its 2011-12 session Tuesday without granting final approval to a bill sponsored by Rep. Charles Graham that would have broken the state’s lease with the nonprofit N.C. Indian Cultural Center Inc. Although the state will continue to study the issue, the legislature will take no action on the cultural center until at least 2013.
Graham’s bill had passed in the House and in the Senate, with unanimous support in both. But it was returned to the House with a companion bill, and was never voted upon.
According to the Fayetteville Observer, Graham said Tuesday that there were concerns that the state had no money set aside to maintain the property after the lease was terminated. Also, Graham reportedly said the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, which leases from the state the adjoining Riverside Golf Course, was unhappy that the legislation included terminating the golf course lease.
Sen. Michael Walters said this morning that he supported the legislation because there are concerns that the nonprofit is not in compliance with the lease.
“There is no liability insurance (on the property),” Walters said. “That doesn’t comply with the lease.”
Overall, more than 500 acres just west of Pembroke would have been affected. In addition to the adjacent golf course, which is now closed, the cultural center includes an amphitheater, a lake, swimming pool, museum, picnic area with shelters, a ball field, and a nearly completed welcome center.
Graham’s bill was strongly opposed by the nonprofit’s board, whose members point to recent improvements to existing buildings and ongoing construction. Kenneth Preston Hall, the board’s chairman, blames vandalism for many of the problems the nonprofit is having maintaining the property.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles@heartlandpublications.com.