Commissioners ready to end the vacancies

Jan. 30, 2014 @ 05:52 PM

The Vance County commissioners agreed last week that the county has not acted on its vacant properties for too long.

“These are things we need to take care of as county because of the fact that we are setting an example for the rest of the county,” Hester said at the commissioners’ planning retreat on Jan. 23 when the commissioners decided to reduce vacant, county-owned buildings 67 percent by the end of fiscal year 2015.

Hester offered proposals for the county to auction off or demolish three county-owned buildings.

Commissioner Dan Brummitt said the proactive discussion is a step forward.

“We’ve talked about this for years and you’ve actually gone out and put some numbers on this,” Brummitt said.

Hester said the N.C. National Guard Armory building on Dabney Drive, which has been vacant for 12 years, could be demolished for $185,000, according to one contractor’s estimate.

He said a second contractor estimated $55,000 to replace the boiler pipe insulation, window caulking, floor tile and roofing materials.

But Hester advised against renovating the dilapidated building and suggested that it be auctioned.

He also recommended demolishing the Vance Manor property near Henderson Collegiate. The property, vacant since 2000, would cost $58,000 to demolish, according to one estimate.

He said vandalism is a continued problem with this building and there has been evidence copper wire was removed from the electrical service.

“That is the thing that really bothers me, we typically let old buildings stand,” said commissioner Gordon Wilder. “We have created an eyesore and we have created all sorts of problems for us and I would like to see us sell the property or get it on our tax books and move on. I think if we can do that to little or no cost to the county, that’s where we ought to go.”

The last county-owned building he discussed was the former Vance County school administration building, which is 8,500 square feet and vacant since 2005.

Hester said one contractor estimated to tear down the building for $25,000,

another for $29,800, and a third for $53,800, adding that the county and First Methodist Church talked briefly about working together to transform the property.

He suggested the county appoint an individual or a committee to work with the church.

“A lot of times when you have county buildings sitting there empty, it seems you have other entities or other part of government saying, ‘We will just use that as storage space,’ which is not what we need to be doing to start with,” Hester said.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.