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Commissioners OK community center expansion



Staff Writer


Lincoln County’s Board of Commissioners has voted to move forward with the renovation of a community center after a tense debate.

At their meeting Monday night, commissioners listened to Director of Public Works Don Chamblee and Director of Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Erma Deen Hoyle give an update on the expansion of the East Lincoln Community Center.

According to Chamblee, the expansion of the community center would be tied in to the existing building, featuring new restrooms, a spacious community meeting room, concessions and a maintenance room.  The proposed expansion would add approximately 7,000 square feet the building’s existing 12,000 square feet.

At this time, the expansion project is currently $300,000 over budget. Hoyle explained that they had not anticipated having to construct a firewall for the building when creating the project’s budget.

This is the second recreation project this year that has gone over budget. At their meeting last month, commissioners learned that additional funds would be required to complete Denver’s Rescue Squad Park. At their meeting earlier this month, they decided to delay their final decision on the project until April, in the hopes that County Manager Tracy Jackson would be able to better inform them of the fiscal 2014-2015 budget.

Commissioner James Klein made a motion to delay a decision on either project until Jackson was able to present more information regarding next year’s budget.

“Both of these projects are in this year’s fiscal budget,” Klein said. “If Project A goes forward, Project B is dead. I’m not just going to pick one and shoot the other. I’d rather have two projects on life support than one dead. My motion would be to table this to see what the County Manager’s CIP address would be. The projects have different base amounts, but both face the same dilemma. “

“We made a commitment to the Rescue Squad Park for $150,000,” County Commissioner Carroll Mitchem said. “Then, they came up just recently and said they needed more money. This community center project was something that has been in the works…the additional funds for the Rescue Park would be an additional commitment.”

“I don’t know that one (project) being born before the other one matters,” Klein argued. “I think it’s a mistake if we move blindly on one. As a commissioner and Rotary member, I believe the park will be used infinitely more than a concession stand and restrooms. That’s just the way it is.”

Commissioner Carl Robinson countered Klein’s argument, stating that the expansion would be more than just additional restrooms.

“It’s more than just restrooms; it’s a meeting place too, which is badly needed in our community,” Robinson said. “Let’s be just real clear about this. We said we would pay for a Farmer’s Market in the Rescue Squad Park. We didn’t say we would pay for a $450,000 building that includes bathrooms that’s doubling as a concession stand too. We never dreamed that a Farmer’s Market would cost a half million dollars.”

“We should not be in the business of building meeting rooms,” Klein said. “We’ve got scores of churches all over this county, lots of space, lots of options. There are a lot of private places, but most churches will welcome public meetings with open arms.”

Klein’s motion to table the decision on the East Lincoln Community Center expansion failed 2-3, with County Commissioner Chair Alex Patton, Mitchem and Robinson in opposition.

Robinson then made a motion to move forward with the community center expansion, which passed 3-2, with Klein and Commissioner Cecelia Martin in opposition.

County commissioners unanimously approved the Lincoln County Public Library’s request to apply for the Library Services and Technology Act EZ Innovation Grant.

According to Library Director Jennifer Sackett, the $17,750 grant would serve to establish an online community database to serve as a clearinghouse for local information and resources to serve citizens. If their application is selected, the library staff would be required to give a presentation of the project to grant officials to determine its fate.

Participation in the project would be voluntary to those requested to assist in the endeavor. The county would not be required to match the grant.

According to Sackett, the grant money would pay for the project as well as the salary temporary part-time employee to serve as a one-year project liaison.

“Once the accounts are set up and training is done, it will be easy for participants to maintain their resources,” Sackett said. “Our first goal would be to focus on nonprofit and service organizations.”

Other decisions at Monday night’s commissioner meeting included:

County commissioners unanimously voted to approve applicant Xiaopei Guo’s request to amend a conditional zoning district to permit an 8,160 square-foot retail sales facility with upper story offices. The 0.69 parcel is located on the north side of N.C. Business, about 300 feet east of Burnwood Trail in the Catawba Springs Township.

County commissioners unanimously voted to approve a request for a conditional use permit to exceed 36 percent impervious surface area in the Hoyle Creek WS-IV Protected Area as a special nonresidential intensity allocation. The applicant, C4 Development, LLC, has proposed to develop 2.2 acres, including 1.5 acres within the watershed district with 55 percent impervious surface area, for a Family Dollar Store.

The Planning Board and Lincoln County Board of Commissioners are scheduled to hold their next meeting on April 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Citizens Center in Lincolnton.



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