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Leland looks at uses for old town hall buildings

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By Brian Slattery

LELAND — While Leland officials will have to wait at least another month to move into the new town hall, they are making plans to use the old town hall for economic development.

At the Thursday, March 20, town meeting, parks and recreation director Niel Brooks provided an assessment of the buildings the town staff will leave behind when they move into the new town hall.

The old town hall is made up of three modular buildings that include the commissioners’ meeting room and staff offices.

The town also uses a refurbished house as the parks and rec building and a renovated prefabricated building that is rented for classroom and civic group meetings.

Brooks said the town hall costs $1,800 a month, or about $21,000 a year, to operate. The parks and rec building is maintained on about $400 a month, or $4,700 a year. The classroom building costs a little more than $200 a month, or about $3,400 a year, to run.

Once the staff is relocated, the possible options for the buildings are leasing to a single tenant or demolition. If town officials chose to clear the land, it would cost $30,000 to demolish the town hall, $10,000 for the parks and rec building and $7,000 for the classroom.

Ideas for finding a tenant included creating a welcome center, leasing to a church or providing the space for a business incubator with the help of the North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce. The chamber could rent space to relocate and run the incubator or just provide the location to developing businesses.

Dana Fisher, the chamber’s executive director, said a number of small business owners in the area operate out of their home.

“Is a business incubator a good idea?” Commissioner Jon Tait asked Fisher.

“It would benefit the community,” Fisher said. “Businesses that are working out of their homes now could start here, build their business then move to another location. It could be a win-win.”

“This is a community building,” Mayor Brenda Bozeman said of the old town hall. “This should help the community. We could try it for a couple years.”

Town Manger David Hollis told the board they could make a trial run and if it didn’t work, they can always come back to the board to consider other options.

“If it provides some incentive for the community, we’d be willing to eat some of the cost,” Hollis said. “If there is interest in going that way, we can bring back (a presentation) of all the costs.”

Board members didn’t make a decision for the old building, but staff will research the costs and present them later.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.