05/11/11 — Goldsboro City Council votes to make another offer on Arts Council building

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Goldsboro City Council votes to make another offer on Arts Council building

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on May 11, 2011 2:22 PM

The city is one step closer to realizing its Air Force museum project after the Goldsboro City Council voted Tuesday to enter into a contract to buy the Arts Council of Wayne County building on Ash Street.

An original contract was canceled at the council's work session May 2 and reworked to offer the Arts Council $500,000 for the building, down from the city's original offer of $600,000.

Mayor Pro-tem Chuck Allen, who motioned both to kill the original contract and to approve the ordinance to enter the new contract, said unforeseen renovation costs caused the city to rethink its offer.

"We knew it was going to have to have plumbing and mechanical and all that. We knew it was going to have to have new windows. We didn't know it was going to have to have new frames for the windows. So basically we said we'll split this cost with you. We're saving $100,000 to do something with, and they're taking a little bit of a hit, too."

Engineer Jerry Hodge, who was contracted by the city to inspect the building, released a report indicating that overall renovations for the building would total $1.4 million.

The deal is crucial for the Arts Council, which received a grant through a partnership with the city and the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation to move downtown and renovate a building that will better house its studios, offices and exhibit space.

Upon entering the contract, the city will pay $25,000 to the Arts Council, which will be used toward the city's purchase, which will be decided no later than June 21. If the city backs out, the Arts Council will keep the $25,000.

The council had discussed the idea of including the county and other groups in the funding for the museum, but Allen said that until the city had a better idea of what it was dealing with, Goldsboro couldn't expect anyone else to sign on.

"The problem is we still don't have the plan. We don't know what ... it is we're trying to sell the county or anybody else, and until the end of the month when we have that, we're just not going to know," he said.

The city has said it is hoping for cooperation from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to help provide exhibits and is also counting on Air Force veteran volunteers to help staff the museum.

Allen said he understood there was opposition to the city's spending during the economic crunch, but that citizens didn't understand that the money was coming out of a fund that was mandated by legislature to be used for travel and tourism investments.

"You can't give raises with that money," he said, noting that the travel and tourism fund had about $2 million in it. "All you can do is travel- and tourism-related."

He also noted how time-sensitive the purchase was and that this was likely the city's best chance to ever have an Air Force museum.

"If you're ever going to have an Air Force museum, this is the only chance we've got of having one because I don't think we'll ever have the money to build on a new location," he said. "The cart is before the horse, but because of the timing of it, we didn't have a choice. If the building gets sold to someone else, then it ain't gonna ever happen."

Allen said the purchase was an important step for the city and would mean a lot for both the City Council and the Arts Council

"It gives us quality of life. It gives us ties into the base and it helps us with BRAC," he said.

Councilmen Michael Headen and Don Chatman were absent during the vote.