First Posted: 12/11/2013
RED SPRINGS — The lights on the fountain at the Dayco plant were switched on again this week after a 15-year absence.
But town officials said the facility itself is already a shining example of public-private cooperation.
“The work that has been done here is just unbelievable,” Mayor John McNeill told the small crowd gathered around the fountain during a brief ceremony Thursday night.
The fountain is just the latest improvement at the facility, which previously housed a textile plant and an incubation site for business start-ups before being given to the town in mid-90s.
“It took a lot of work,” said Vicky Baxley, a Dayco supervisor. “It’s amazing to see how much we’ve changed.”
Town employees have also done work to freshen up the building’s aging paint, clean a now-defunct fountain and trim overgrown foliage, but the town recently contracted with Scotland County Correctional facility to use inmate labor at $1 per day.
Town officials estimate that the town was able to save between $75,000 and $100,000 on the repairs by using the inmate labor.
Red Springs also has plans to paint the guardhouse and fence, as well as replace drywall in the overhang near the building’s front entrance.
“Those lights and the fountain itself just fell into disrepair,” said Red Springs Public Works Director George Hall. “There were a number of different business in there that were struggling to stay afloat and the fountain was just not a priority. It will be nice to see it return after all these years.”
This summer, the town began flying an American flag, North Carolina flag, and a flag sporting the Red Springs town logo near the front entrance.
“This used to be a nice building, and I hear from people who remember driving by and enjoying the fountain,” Town Manager James Bennett said. “We wanted to restore some of that attractiveness.”
Dayco, a manufacturer of automotive, agricultural and industrial belts and pulleys, is currently leasing 55,000 square feet of the 147,000-square-foot building. Dayco employs about 50 people.
Before the Dayco deal, Aberdeen Fabrics considered buying the building, but when the recession hit the company had to abandon the deal. Currently Dayco is looking to to rent additional space.
Bennett said it is the fourth time the company has requested additional space.
The town collects about $140,000 in rent each year on the building.
McNeill said he would like to see that figure jump to around $225,000 once all the space is leased.
“The income from this building has gone a long way in decreasing the severe financial crisis our town has gone through over the last several years,” McNeill said.