MOUNT OLIVE — The town board Monday night declared the former National Guard Armory property as surplus and accepted a $550,000 offer on it from the Mt. Olive Pickle Co.
The sale will be advertised for 10 days for upset bids in the newspaper and the town’s website, townofmountolivenc.org/home, Mayor Joe Scott said.
If there are no other offers, the sale becomes final, and the board can transfer the property at its Feb. 4 meeting.
The money from the sale will go into a restricted capital fund to help finance a new fire station.
The company paid the town $10,000 in “earnest money,” Town Manager Charles Brown said.
“Mt. Olive Pickle has made the town what we think is a very generous offer for the armory property,” Brown said.
The armory sits on slightly more than 5.5 acres on Witherington Street, just off of North Breazeale Avenue. The land, appraised at $425,000, adjoins the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. plant property.
“We first approached the town last spring once the armory had been transferred back to the town,” said Lynn Williams, Mt. Olive Pickle Co. spokesman. “As we continue to grow and expand our operations, it just made sense to us to consider this tract, given its proximity to our own property.
“We have several possible uses we are kicking around, but we have no immediate plans for the property other than for storage of materials.”
The North Carolina Army National Guard deactivated the 1132nd Military Police Co., at its headquarters in Rocky Mount, on Aug. 6, 2017. The 1132nd maintained armories in Mount Olive, Tarboro and Rocky Mount, all of which were closed.
The armory, which dates back to 1961, closed in 2017 as part of a nationwide U.S. Army and National Guard force reduction/reorganization plan.
The keys to the building were given to the town during a brief ceremony this past April.
At that time, there had been speculation that the town might consider the site for a new fire station.
“Our current fire facility is over 50 years old,” Brown said. “The first study that we had regarding replacing that facility was done 10 years ago. The current equipment that is mandated by the state of North Carolina barely fits in our current facility. It is a stretch at best.
“We have environmental and health issues created by the fact that our volunteers and our other firefighters have no way to extract hazardous materials from their turnout gear when they return from fighting a fire or accident scene. So, our firefighters deserve the best that we an give them.”
Also, the town needs to prepare for the eventuality of having a paid department, which will require a station that has sleeping quarters and a kitchen, Brown said.
The town has hired a Gastonia-based company to search for the best possible location for a new station, Brown said.
The consultant has said it would cost $5 million to do the necessary demolition and rebuilding at the National Guard Armory site, he said.
“He felt that would be cost prohibitive because you would spend $5 million and still have a 60-year-old building,” Brown said. “So that was pretty much eliminated.”
The company is currently looking at two other locations, Brown said.