03/25/11 — City weighs idea for Arts Council building

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City weighs idea for Arts Council building

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 25, 2011 1:46 PM

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The Arts Council of Wayne County appears to be in limbo. With no public plan to move downtown and speculation about an Air Force museum moving into the building, many are wondering what the plans are for the facility's future.

Members of the Goldsboro City Council were not quite ready to pull the trigger on Interim City Manager Tasha Logan's suggestion that the board acquire the Arts Council of Wayne County headquarters -- and that they renovate the building and turn it into an Air Force museum.

But their reservations seemed to have less to do with the concept itself, than with the questions about the project that remain unanswered.

Like just how much it would cost and whether other entities, including the Wayne County Commission, would help foot the bill.

"This doesn't need to be a city project. This doesn't need to be a Travel and Tourism project," Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen said. "Our relationship with (the Air Force) is key to everybody in this county, so I don't think we need to be selling this as a city project. We need to be selling this as a community project."

The museum, Ms. Logan said, would be dedicated to celebrating the history of the storied military installation that has called Goldsboro home for generations.

"We really think it's an excellent opportunity for us to partner with and show our heritage with the 4th Fighter Wing and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base," she said.

But gaining ownership of the building, alone, would cost some $600,000.

Then throw in the necessary repairs -- Ms. Logan said early estimates indicate it would cost at least $679,000 to bring the facility into code compliance and that there are several "unknowns" that could "greatly change" that figure -- and the project eclipses the $1 million mark.

Additional costs not covered in the early estimate include a full structural analysis of the building's footings and foundation, resealing the parking lot, landscaping and refurbishing the elevator.

And an HVAC system would have to be installed.

"When you talk about having exhibits, pictures, photographs, you have to be able to have a climate controlled space and you also have to be able to control the humidity levels," Ms. Logan said.

The interim city manager also estimates that it would cost some $139,000 a year to operate the facility, however, staffing and the cost associated with acquiring, setting up and maintaining exhibits is not included in that figure.

"There can be significant costs associated with getting exhibits in, but once they're here, they're pretty much here for good," Ms. Logan said.

No decision on whether or not to act on the proposal has been made by the council.

Mayor Al King, however, said the idea is certainly an exciting one.

"I really think that this Air Force museum could be and will be a destination," he said. "People will come to Goldsboro for the express purpose of coming to it."

But in order for that to happen, council members agreed, someone might have to help pay for it.

County Manager Lee Smith said he, too, believes in the project.

Coming up with funding, though, "would be tough in this economy," he said Thursday.

And while he "could not speak for the board," the county, he said, is already looking at spending only on "the bare essentials" -- the board is already looking at several million in capital spending, including the Mount Olive Library renovation, Health Department renovation and Services on Aging renovation projects.