Schools eyes county property

By T.C. Hunter -

Steve Martin

PEMBROKE — The Board of Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County voted unanimously Friday night to get at the head of the line to buy property in downtown Lumberton from the county for more than $2 million that could be used for its administrative offices.

Steve Martin made the motion to place on the March 14 meeting agenda sending a letter to Robeson County Board of Commissioners asking that the school district be given the first option on eight parcels. Dwayne Smith seconded the motion and the board approved the motion with a unanimous voice vote.

Martin pointed out that the county plans to move its administrative office and some county offices now located in the county courthouse to the old BB&T building on Chestnut Street. Making that move means the county would be vacating three buildings in the downtown area and five accompanying parking lots. Martin suggested the board could approach the county with a bid equal to the property’s collective tax value of $2,162,100.

Martin told board members the three buildings being vacated by the county would have more than enough room for the school district offices and accompanying staff now working out of office space leased from Native Angels and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The system’s central office was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.

“I think it would be a good idea to get our name out there because it’s a year down the road,” Martin said.

Board Chairman Loistine DeFreece spoke in favor of informing the county of its interest because the property is not in a flood zone. The system has been informed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will not pay to relocate its current administrative campus unless it it is placed outside a flood zone.

“If we find something not in flood zone we need to jump on it,” DeFreece said.

DeFreece urged fellow board members to make contact with county commissioners speak to them about their interest in purchasing the property.

“With our good relations with the commissioners we may be able to talk them into giving it to us for free,” Martin said to a round of laughter.

The board will also vote at its next meeting on extending the lease for the space at Native Angels for one year. A three-month extension was approved during the board’s Feb. 14 meeting.

Smith said it would be better to have a one-year lease rather than extending the lease every three months.

Freeman made the motion to place the extension question on the March 14 meeting agenda. John Campbell seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a unanimous voice vote.

Steve Martin Martin

By T.C. Hunter

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974

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