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Trustees vote to put new roof on Southport BCC campus

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By Sam Hickman

 SUPPLY — To demolish or not to demolish, that was the question that perplexed members of the Brunswick Community College Board of Trustees on Friday, June 20, during their budget retreat and monthly board meeting in Supply.

Eventually, the trustees voted to put a new roof over the college’s Southport campus instead of demolishing a large portion of the building that was originally suggested by trustee Bobby Long.

The trustees had two main restoration options. The first was a partial demolition, which would have left 3,800 square feet. The plan would have cost between $150,000 and $168,000 and included building a new brick wall to close off the building as well as a new steel deck and roof.

The other option was completing a brand new roof that covered $8,600 square feet and costs $183,000. It would’ve required renovations and additions to the building later.

Board member Patrick O’Bryant said he didn’t understand why the board would vote on the demolition option when it would only costs $15,000 more to build a brand new roof.

Board member Allen Williams said the maintenance on the building that was in “awful shape” would end up costing the college “thousands.”

O’Bryant asked Long if the college was strapped for cash to the point where the $15,000 made such a glaring difference.

“It’s not the cash, it’s acquiring the conditional use permit,” Long said.

O’Bryant expressed his desire to go with option three despite knowing it could cause the college problems in the future.

Williams told O’Bryant and other board members the walls were moving inside the building that some wanted to give a new roof.

“When you put your hands on the cinderblock walls, they move,” Williams said.

“We have two great options, and I say that tongue in cheek,” O’Bryant said.

Trustee Art Skipper said the college would have to pour in “a significant amount of money” into maintaining the building rather than demolishing it.

Trustee Alan Holden said it would be a “real headache” to satisfy all the codes required for demolition.

“Every time I’ve done it (demolition rather than building a new roof), I’ve regretted it,” he said. “I don’t know why we won’t replace the whole roof.”

“This issue comes under great scrutiny from me,” O’Bryant said. “I don’t want it to make us look foolish any longer.”

“I can only tell what I’d do on my property,” Holden said. “But whatever the board decides … I still love you all.”

The motion was made to approve the first option of partial demolition but it was voted down by Holden, O’Bryant, state Rep. Frank Iler, state Sen. Bill Rabon and board vice chairwoman Diane McRainey.

Holden made a motion for board members to cast their vote to BCC President Dr. Susanne Adams by Tuesday, June 24, but Rabon advised the trustees that the move would be in violation of the open meetings law.

Holden withdrew the motion.

O’Bryant said he was looking at the building as an asset rather than a liability. Holden then made a motion for the second option, to build a new roof.

When talking about the funds the college might need to maintain the building, Rabon said, “From my perspective, and you can ask Mr. Iler, it’s a lot easier to say, ‘I need money to keep it up,’ rather than, ‘I need money to build it.’”

The trustees voted to buy a brand new roof after Holden made the motion to approve it. It is unclear when construction will begin, but trustees said they hope to hire a new contractor by Sept. 23 so they will still be able to open the building by January.

Originally, the board allocated $1.4 million from the $30 million bond referendum approved by voters in 2004 for the Southport annex, but about $200,000 had already been spent on architectural designs.

The Southport campus is the last in a series of projects funded through the 2004 referendum.

The Southport center on Lord Street was designed to be a continuing education center, with more classroom space and art studios.

 

Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or shickman@brunswickbeacon.com.