Council given suggestions|Committee presents four possible sites for new police center

Published 4:29 am Saturday, March 13, 2010

Contributing Editor

The committee charged with evaluating and ranking possible sites for a new police station in Washington presented its recommendations to the City Council on Monday.
Mark Recko, executive director of the Washington Housing Authority, explained the committee’s selection process before he presented the panel’s recommendations. The committee presented the following sites for the council to consider:
• The baseball fields on West Third Street, near its intersection with Plymouth Street.
• The Herbert Perry Sr. property at John Small Avenue and Hodges Street.
• The Beaufort County Developmental Center property on West Fifth Street.
• Property adjacent to Warren Field Airport (North Market Street and Airport Road).
“We spent a good amount of time talking about the pros and cons of each,” Recko said about the committee’s review of 23 proposed sites.
The committee, during a series of meetings in recent months, narrowed the list possible sites to the four it recommended to the council. The committee, using a set of criteria, assigned a score to each of the 23 sites. Some sites were eliminated from further consideration because of their locations in flood-prone areas or not being large enough. Others were eliminated because of the cost of acquiring the property.
The baseball-fields site received a score of 62, the highest score. The Herbert Perry Sr. property got a score of 47. The Beaufort County Developmental Center site received a score of 49. The property near the airport got a score of 59.
“I think the ball’s in our court,” Mayor Pro Tempore Bobby Roberson said after Recko presented the committee’s recommendations.
The recurring issue of city power customers paying high electric rates again surfaced at the meeting.
Donna Lay expressed her concerns about what she termed high electric rates that she and other Washington Electric Utilities customers are paying. Referencing two recent Washington Daily News’ articles that reported on some members of the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power agency considering leaving the agency, Lay said that finding power companies to compete with NCEMPA when it comes to providing power to NCEMPA members, including Washington, may be the answer. Another supplier of power to the city could provide that power at a lower cost, thus allowing the city to lower its retail electric rates, she said.
Together, NCEMPA members are under an agreement to pay off $2.6 billion in debt related to the construction of power plants about 35 years ago. NCEMPA have some ownership of those plants.
A city or town wanting to leave the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency faces many challenges, not to mention someone taking over that city or town’s share of $2.6 billion in debt that NCEMPA’s 32 members are obligated to pay, said Michael Colo, the lawyer representing NCEMPA. Colo’s remarks came during the power agency’s Board of Commissioners’ meeting in Wilson last month.
Lay said solving that debt issue would put the city and other NCEMPA members in better position to do something about lowering their customers’ electric bills.
The council told Lay the city is aggressively pursing a solution or solutions for the problem of high electric bills.