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Greene County accepts Snow Hill’s offer to buy gym


By Brenda Monty
The Standard Laconic

Thursday, August 10, 2017

SNOW HILL — The Greene County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to accept the town of Snow Hill’s offer to buy the old gym property on Third Street.

The county agreed to sell the property for $1 and a $100,000 allocation by Snow Hill to go toward the construction of a $2.5-million wellness and recreation facility the county plans to build at the county recreation complex on Kingold Boulevard.

The town agrees to pay the county $50,000 upon receipt of the property and the balance of $50,000 when the facility is completed. If the facility is not built, the county would return the money to the town.

The town has said for years it would like to renovate the historic gym, which the county had allowed to fall into serious disrepair. In February 2016, in efforts to both improve the looks of the community and provide a community recreation facility for its residents, the town asked the county to donate it to the town, explaining it planned to renovate the gym and add a splash pad and walking trails.

The most recent estimated cost for renovation at the time was $600,000. The town told commissioners in 2016 that if after closer inspection the gym were deemed unsalvageable, the town would pay the estimated $25,000 for demolition.

However, the county refused.

Ironically, six months later, the county voted demolish the gym, concluding it was the most cost-effective solution after pest control professionals found extensive termite infestation.

The county did not demolish the building, nor has it done anything with the property since.

When the county officially moved forward with plans to construct a new recreation facility, County Commissioner Antonio Blow proposed at the May 1 commissioner meeting that the town be asked if it was still interested in the property for $1.

However, commissioners wanted the town to contribute $100,000 to their gym project, plus guarantee the gym would be renovated.

The town initially rejected the offer, especially since the gym had become even more deteriorated and vandalized since its offer more than a year ago.

The town met in closed session July 18 to discuss the county’s offer and unanimously agreed to offer much less for the property.

Following an open discussion at a July 24 special-called meeting of Snow Hill Board of Commissioners, town commissioners Bobby Taylor and Rosa Wilkes opposed the county’s offer, but the motion passed, 3-2.

The counter offer, which county commissioners accepted Monday, states that if the town decides demolition is the most cost-effective option, the county will pay $25,000 of the cost.

Blow made the motion Monday to accept the purchase agreement, which was seconded by vice chairman James Shackleford.

While the gym has been at the center of several lively debates at public meetings of the Greene County Board of Commissioners, Monday’s decision was made without public discussion or a call for closed session.

After presenting the offer to commissioners, County Manager Kyle DeHaven said, “I spoke with each commissioner individually concerning this. Is there anything you wanted to discuss or say?”

Commissioner Jerry Jones simply asked DeHaven to confirm the estimated cost of demolition of the gym, which stood at $29,000.

The Standard Laconic is based in Snow Hill and serves all of Greene County.