04/05/11 — Council approves $20,000 to check Arts Council building

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Council approves $20,000 to check Arts Council building

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 5, 2011 1:46 PM

Members of the Goldsboro City Council approved a request Monday evening that will result in the withdrawal of more than $20,000 from the Occupancy Tax Fund -- a coffer also known as the Civic Center Fund -- to perform a structural analysis of the Arts Council of Wayne County headquarters.

Nearly two months ago, the board loosely agreed to purchase the building for some $600,000 -- a document signed Feb. 8 states that a final decision on whether or not to buy the facility need not be reached until Aug. 1 and allows for a 90-day examination period, during which the city can cancel the contract "for any reason, or for no reason."

And before the city commits to the buy, the "structural adequacy" of the building needs to be determined, particularly if the board intends to move forward with the proposition of turning the site into an Air Force museum.

City Manager Tasha Logan said Jerry Hodge Engineering could complete its work in 30 days.

And the survey that will examine the feasibilty of using the building to house a museum, set to be conducted by a conservator -- $5,000 of the $20,000 appropriated will be used for that service -- she added, should be done by mid-May.

But not every council member seemed sold on the idea at first.

Jackie Warrick asked if anyone had contacted the county about a potential partnership, and referenced a News-Argus story in which County Manager Lee Smith said coming up with funding to contribute to a museum "would be tough in this economy."

"It sounded to me like (the county) is full up," Warrick said. "If they're full up, who's gonna partner with us?"

Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen responded, suggesting that until these preliminary steps are taken, no real plan can be unveiled to potential investors.

Whether or not the City Council will back out of the deal to purchase the building within their 90-day window remains to be seen.

But if they do, the decision would have implications that stretch far beyond the prospect of what many, including Mayor Al King, believe would be a popular tourist attraction that celebrates the relationship bet-ween Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the communities outside the installation's gates.

The Arts Council recently announced it would be moving into new quarters on the first- and second-level spaces of the building at the corner of Walnut and John streets.

But the organization's move, council president Al Gristte noted, is likewise contingent on the city's agreeing to purchase the Ash Street location.