09/28/04 — Seven Springs takes steps toward new town hall

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Seven Springs takes steps toward new town hall

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on September 28, 2004 2:01 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- The Seven Springs commissioners reached a consensus Monday to take the first step toward turning an abandoned church into Town Hall.

They said during a special meeting that it looks as if all they have to do is provide one handicapped-accessible bathroom to get the former Seven Springs Baptist Church on Spring Street ready.

The town has been operating in a mobile town hall on the hill above town since the floods of 1999. The town bought the church, which was also flooded, to house a new town hall and a library.

The board members want to wait to decide how to use the sanctuary and fellowship hall. They want a community building that can be rented out for special events, and they want the library to move into the building.

"There are so many possibilities," said Commissioner Danny Carter. He said he wants to discuss those possibilities with county officials.

The town needs to be in the building before the cold weather arrives, said Town Commissioner Elizabeth Quinn. The main concern is ice on the roads. The narrow Church Street that goes up the hill to the current Town Hall is treacherous during the winter when ice is on it.

"We have two heating units," said Commissioner Peggy Jones. "It looks like we'd save a lot on heating if we put the library in the back of the building."

The library's books would all fit in the sanctuary, but some of the books might not fit in the fellowship hall, said Mayor Pro Tem Emma Ward.

Commissioner Rodolph Adams favored the idea of using the building just for a Town Hall first. The library trustees haven't assured the town that the library would stay for a certain length of time, he said.

Carter and Ms. Jones will ask county inspection officials about different options. Then, they will gather proposals from licensed commercial plumbers and electricians to find out how much it will cost to take the first step. They also want the layout to allow for future expansion.

Carter said he would hate for the town not to have a community building. He said Jack Keel of New Bern wants to rent the sanctuary every Thursday night for an outreach ministry.

He said the town could get by renting the sanctuary with the current bathroom facilities -- until it gets a permit to turn the building into a town hall.

"What about the renovations?" said Ms. Ward. "Are we going to let it sit there month on month? Lord have mercy, we need the money."

The town can't raise the $75,000 necessary to renovate the sanctuary, said Adams. And even if it could raise the money, it would never get its money back from the rentals.

Carter said every politician he has talked to about helping pay for the renovations ahs told him to wait until after the elections.