MOREHEAD CITY — With the news the state has approved the transfer of the National Guard armory property on Bridges Street back to the town of Morehead City, Carteret Health Care officials are proceeding with plans to purchase the property to build a helipad.
The N.C. National Guard announced in early 2019 it would be closing the armory, located at 3413 Bridges St., across the street from the hospital, and divesting the property back to Morehead City. National Guard officials previously told the News-Times the closure is part of a statewide effort to consolidate operations and reduce the number of armories in the state.
In early March, the N.C. Council of State approved transferring the property deed back to Morehead City. City Manager Ryan Eggleston said that process is still primarily between the state and the National Guard and should take a few months to finalize before the city can take possession of the property.
CHC has been eyeing the armory property for years as an ideal location to launch and land patient-transport helicopters. The hospital currently has permission from the National Guard to launch and land helicopters from the site, but CHC wants to construct a more permanent facility.
To that end, the hospital is offering Morehead City $1.2 million to purchase the land. Last September, the Morehead City Council adopted a resolution declaring the property as surplus and essentially allowing it to be sold. Normally, such a sale would have to go through an upset bid process, but CHC can bypass that process because the hospital is a nonprofit entity serving in the public interest, according to Morehead City attorney Derek Taylor.
Kyle Marek, chief information officer for CHC, told the News-Times Thursday the hospital has begun reaching out to engineering firms for quotes on an estimated project cost. He acknowledged it’s still rather early in the process, but the hospital wants to be ready to “hit the ground running” as soon as it’s in possession of the old armory property.
“We’ll see the proposals and just get started down the path,” he said. “…This is just scratching the surface.”
Mr. Marek said he was told to expect the property transfer to take between 60 and 90 days, although the timeframe could be shorter or longer, depending on several factors.
As for the National Guard unit that occupied the armory, Army officials have said the 50 to 75 soldiers stationed there would be transferred to Jacksonville, where the two units will combine into one.
Contact Elise Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.