Beaufort to consider request to hold off on abatement collections

Beaufort commissioners will consider a request Monday from Preservation North Carolina, which owns the historic Godette Hotel at 400 Pollock St., seen here Friday, regarding reimbursement for asbestos removal costs. (Jackie Starkey photo)

BEAUFORT — At its Monday virtual meeting, the Beaufort Board of Commissioners will consider a request from Preservation North Carolina to delay collection of an outstanding bill for asbestos abatement  at the historic Godette Hotel.

The board briefly reviewed the request from PNC at its Dec. 21 work session, but opted to discuss it further this month. The public can access Monday’s Zoom meeting at 6 p.m. by visiting us02web.zoom.us/j/85100377114?pwd=VzUycTZUNUhlWXNhR2ZQWXkxVEwydz09.

The town had already undertaken some asbestos abatement as part of a demolition order on the landmark at 400 Pollock St. when the nonprofit asked officials to halt proceedings pending acquisition of the property.

In late April 2020, the town agreed to stay the demolition order with certain conditions, one of which being PNC would reimburse the town’s $8,600 spent on abatement by the end of that calendar year.

In a letter dated Dec. 18, the organization, which successfully purchased the property, asked the town to revise the deadline.

“We respectfully request that the Town of Beaufort allow us to pay this invoice upon the earlier of 1) the sale of the property or 2) June 30, 2021, the end of the Town’s fiscal year,” the letter states, in part. “Our nonprofit group has taken a significant risk in borrowing the necessary funds to purchase this highly significant landmark of African-America history in Beaufort (as well as the house next door, which we will be acquiring early in 2021). In the meanwhile, we will have major carrying costs (interest, insurance, marketing, staff time, etc.) for this property.”

The main building, called the Godette Hotel, was built from 1946-47 by Henderson Godette Sr. and his family. As noted by historian David Cecelski, the building became a safe haven for African-American visitors to Beaufort in the Jim Crow South.

Mr. Godette’s family held ownership of the property until the 2020 sale to PNC, which will seek a buyer for the property and preserve historic aspects with protective covenants.

Also Monday, commissioners are set to consider financing options for a dump truck for the public utilities department.

The town had budgeted borrowing from Truist Bank in the amount of $79,533.10 for a five-year loan at 1.79%. At the Dec. 21 work session, however, Commissioner John Hagle questioned why the town wasn’t paying for the truck outright and avoiding interest. The board agreed to discuss it further this month.

Other items up for discussion Monday night include continuing talk on a proposed town sewer allocation policy and the N.C. League of Municipalities’ legislative goals for 2021-22. The only item on the consent agenda is approval of the minutes from the Nov. 23, Dec. 14, Dec. 16 and Dec. 21 board meetings.

 

Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email jackie@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.

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