07/08/14 — Council gives final OK to bank

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Council gives final OK to bank

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on July 8, 2014 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro City Council officially cut its losses on the former Arts Council of Wayne County building Monday, as it approved plans for The Little Bank to build a new location on property at the corner of Ash Street and Spence Avenue.

The action came three years after the board spent $500,000 for a building that once sat on the site -- a structure officials said would eventually become an Air Force museum that would boost tourism in a city known for its military ties.

But after years of planning -- and more than $435,000 spent on feasibility studies, upkeep and, ultimately, demolition of the building -- the city sold the property to The Little Bank at a loss of roughly $235,000.

The bank paid the city $35,000 in October as part of the sale and will pay the remaining $665,000 when the sale closes -- the final sale was contingent upon the council's approval of the bank's plans.

But the three-year Air Force museum saga was not the only project that took a step forward Monday.

The council also approved -- for a second time -- a series of construction projects downtown.

The board had already voted to move forward with a $15 million effort that would include a revamped Center Street and Walnut Street streetscape, the construction of a new GATEWAY transfer station and improvements to the area surrounding Goldsboro Union Station, but City Manager Scott Stevens, in an effort to debunk any perceived conflict of interest involving Center Street property owner Chuck Allen, called for a re-vote.

Allen, unlike last time, recused himself and the re-vote passed 3 to 2, with councilmen William Goodman and Gene Aycock voting against the measure.

Stevens said that it was always his intention to advise Allen to recuse himself from the final vote on the project, but when the time came for the vote he forgot to inform him.

"I meant to remind him, but with us trying to get all of the numbers together, I didn't," Stevens said.

But after realizing the mistake, he spoke with the city attorney to decide on the best course of action to quash any perceived conflict of interest.

"So we decided it would be best to re-award the project without (Allen's) vote," he said. "We didn't get any calls, but even if no one ever noticed it then it's still not right. So we looked at the best way to make it right."