State near accepting Mattamuskeet Lodge

Published 1:42 pm Saturday, March 10, 2007

By Staff
Repairs for building about $13 million
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
A bill signifying the state’s intention to preserve Mattamuskeet Lodge in Hyde County passed the state Senate this week and awaits a House vote next week.
Federal legislators approved transferring the property to the state in October 2006. Under the Lake Mattamuskeet Lodge Preservation Act, the ownership transfer is conditioned upon the state agreeing to restore and maintain the historic structure. The bill that passed this week — if it passes in the House — will signify the state’s acceptance of those terms and the property.
The Dare County Democrat’s district includes Hyde County.
Under the terms of the proposed legislation, the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources will handle stabilization and renovation of the lodge, which was built in 1915. The department oversees the maintenance of state historic sites.
Repairs and renovations are expected to cost around $13 million, according to the latest estimates available. Of that, around $5 million will go to stabilization alone.
But Basnight, leader of the Senate, says he thinks the funding won’t be a problem.
Because it is on Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, the lodge has long been under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department, specifically its U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service branch. After repairs and upgrades are finished, the lodge and about 6 acres that go with it will be transferred to the state’s Wildlife Resources Commission.
Partnership for the Sounds, a nonprofit entity that has served as custodian of the lodge, will also have a hand in the project, Basnight said.
The structure was once the world’s largest pumping station, used to drain Lake Mattamuskeet in the early part of the 20th century. The station was converted in 1934 and operated as a hunting lodge until the early 1970s. From the 1970s to the 1990s, the building was vacant, but was available for public use and open for special events.
But it has been closed to the public since November 2000 because of deterioration to its steel frame and observation tower.
Congress earmarked $3.5 million in 2001 to repair all damage to the building. But beginning in 2002, that money was transferred to the Bureau of Land Management to cover costs associated with wildfires in the western United States. It was never replaced.
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., introduced the Lake Mattamuskeet Lodge preservation bill in April 2006. Crafting the bill was a collaborative effort between the staffs of Basnight and Jones.