Building’s days numbered

Published 8:16 pm Friday, July 20, 2012

The former Beaufort County Health Department building at 403 N. Harvey St. in Washington is in line to be demolished in the near future.

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, is slated to consider accepting a grant to acquire and demolish the property next to Jack’s Creek. The hazard-mitigation grant is being awarded by the N.C. Department of Public Safety. The council also is expected to adopt a budget ordinance for the project and authorize the city manager to sign a pre-disaster mitigation grant agreement.

Councilman Bobby Roberson on Friday confirmed that once the building is demolished, the land on which it sat would become part of the Jacks Creek Greenway, which is overseen by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The project budget is $185,021. The grant provides $138,766 (75 percent of project cost), with the city providing $46,255 (the remaining 25 percent of the project cost).

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the 2010 grant request. The property is in a flood-prone area and suffers from repetitive damage because of flooding. When possible, FEMA prefers to spend money on acquiring such properties and having them demolished instead of paying repeated claims for flood-related damage.

“The building sat vacant for a few years, until a nonprofit acquired it from the County in hopes of restoring it for a youth center. The nonprofit was unable to meet North Carolina Building Code standards, as the storm damage exceeded their construction budget, thus never obtained a Certificate of Occupancy. In 2009, the structure was re-acquired by the City and has remained unoccupied since it flooded in 1999,” reads a document included in the council’s agenda for its meeting.

The council is slated to consider spending $30,000 to hire Retail Strategies as a consultant to assist the city with retail recruitment and retention efforts. In previous meetings, the council and city staff discussed the city’s intention to develop a retail/commercial recruitment and retention program.

“Retail Strategies is a highly successful and diverse entity, as evidenced by the attached information piece, that is very capable of assisting the City as well as commercial entities locate in the Washington area,” City Manager Josh Kay wrote in a memorandum to the mayor and council.

The Washington City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St. To view the council’s agenda for a specific meeting, visit the city’s website at, click on the “Government” and “City Council” headings, then click on “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right, then click on the date for the appropriate agenda.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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