A sleeping quarters addition at the Public Safety Building was on display at the recent Swansboro Fire Department 75th anniversary and open house. But the makeover on the Swansboro Town Hall campus is not over just yet.
Following a closed session to discuss property acquisition at the Oct. 10 board of commissioners meeting, the board voted unanimously to buy the property at 607 West Corbett Ave. Scott Chase, town manager, said the town closed on the purchase on Thursday, Nov. 9. The property is adjacent to the Public Safety Facility – home of the fire and police departments – and will be made part of the town hall campus.
The purchase required commissioners to amend the town’s general fund budget, transferring $85,000 from fund balance to cover the cost of the purchase, which includes legal fees and closing costs, according to Sonia Johnson, finance director.
When it came time to vote, Commissioner Roy Herrick made it clear that funding the purchase has been considered for some time.
He directed his comment to Chase. “At the end of last year, we put money in the fund balance, so were actually taking that out.”
“That’s correct,” Chase replied.
Johnson said the idea of buying the property has been in discussion for some time. That allowed the town to plan for the actual purchase.
“We had excess revenue over our expenditures,” she said of the 2016-17 budget. Those funds were put into the town’s fund balance. “We are really just taking that out.”
“We did anticipate the money being spent for this purchase,” Johnson continued. “We just hadn’t appropriated it.”
Johnson pointed out that fund balance contributions from two recent projects totaled nearly $30,000.
The Public Safety Facility budget was approved at $567,273 and expenditures to date total $561,007, allowing a fund balance contribution of $6,266.
The sleeping quarters budget was $250,000 and expenditures to date total $227,192, allowing a fund balance contribution of $22,808.
“The purchase of land will assure the town has a complete campus for operation and growth of town hall and expansion of public parking,” Chase notes in a memo to the board. “Tentative design for the space includes approximately 40 ‘new’ permeable public parking spaces. The space would also include safer access from town hall proper to the Public Safety Building.”
In addition to covering the purchase price, legal fees and closing costs, the $85,000 appropriation will also cover the costs associated with site preparations, including razing an existing structure.
The building is about 35 years old and has been used as a professional office as well as a residence, according to the appraiser’s report.
With the property purchase, Swansboro will be able to pursue a renovation project funded primarily through a Section 319 grant. These are federal funds distributed by the N.C. Division of Environmental Quality
The project will add 70 parking spaces and retrofit the town hall campus for better storm-water treatment. It is estimated to cost $284,130. The town’s grant, which totals $172,397, will actually come from in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
As part of the project, the Swansboro Public Safety sleeping quarters project was upgraded to fit into the goal of the storm-water reduction plans. That work, including labor and materials, Chase said, counts toward the town’s required grant match.
The N.C. Coastal Federation led the town through the grant application, according to Chase.
The project hinged on the town buying a vacant 1,200-square-foot house adjacent to the Public Safety Facility. That expenditure does not count toward the grant match, according to Chase.
However, he said Onslow County has been supportive of the project in two ways. The Onslow County Tourism Development Authority awarded $17,500, which will count toward the grant match. And David Cotton, Onslow County manager, agreed to waive the cost of disposing the debris – the “tipping fee” – from the demolition of the building at 607 West Corbett Ave.
In addition to creating a bio-retention area to capture and treat storm-water runoff and adding the 40 new parking spaces, current parking spaces will be reconfigured to create another 30.
Referred to as the Stormwater Volume Reduction at the Town of Swansboro Municipal Complex, the project will sere as a demonstration of ways to reduce storm-water runoff.
The work falls under the town’s watershed management plan approved in March. Through the plan, Swansboro aims to “turn back the clock” on water pollution. Using shellfish water closings as a gauge, the goal is to lower the amount of untreated storm-water runoff to a time when more shellfish waters were open.
This is accomplished by reducing instances of flooding, aligning future capital improvements with storm-water retrofits, increasing community awareness and positioning the town for future funding opportunities for implementation, according to the presentation.
In addition to retrofits on public properties, the town plan encourages the installation of voluntary retrofits on private properties, tracks progress and monitors incremental improvement in storm-water runoff volume reduction.
The town hall project incorporates low-impact development and green infrastructure techniques into a town capital works project that will result in a public amenity for the town that reduces locally generated storm-water runoff.
Email Jimmy Williams at Jimmy@tidelandnews.com.