Council Receives Update On Controversial Civic Center

Ann Williams with the Selma Civic Center Steering Committee gives an update on fundraising efforts for the project during Tuesday night’s town council meeting. Photo
Ann Williams with the Selma Civic Center Steering Committee gives an update on fundraising efforts for the project during Tuesday night’s town council meeting. Photo

Members of the Selma Town Council received an update Tuesday night on the proposed Selma Civic Center.

Ann Williams with the Civic Center Steering Committee presented board members with an update on fundraising efforts.  Williams said $33,000 had been raised towards an estimated $300,000 needed to renovate an 80 year-old building located at 300 North Webb Street.

The building was purchased by the Town last December at a cost of $60,000.  Selma didn’t have enough money to purchase the building at the time so the building owner – the Selma American Legion – agreed to finance the building with three annual payments of $20,000 plus interest.

Last night, Williams said fundraising efforts had only been underway three to four months and anticipates more donations in the near future.  The Steering Committee has applied for three grants as high as $50,000 and two grants will becoming available in February or March 2017. One 2017 grant, if awarded to Selma, could bring in up to $200,000 Williams said.

She also announced that First Citizens Bank would donate $30,000 towards the project after $100,000 had been raised by the committee.

Town Manager Jon Barlow announced during the meeting the Johnston County Tourism Authority had awarded a $5,000 grant to the project. The Steering Committee had been seeking $10,000 from the group.

Individuals and businesses can make financial contributions also purchase engraved bricks at a cost of $100 each to help with the fundraising.

Engineering Work

Williams said the civic center committee had been looking at replacing the aging roof on the building, but prior to accepting bids decided to use some of the money raised thus far to hire an engineering firm to design engineered plans to design the plumbing, mechanical, electrical, security, fire alarm and sprinkler systems for the building. Williams said many organizations that award grants require engineered plans as part of the application process.

Williams said she has received a bid from one engineering company for the work. She is awaiting a second bid from another company who may perform a large portion of the work at little to no cost.

Two council members oppose project

The Center has not been without controversy. In December, Councilmen William Overby and Tommy Holmes voted against the purchase and are still opposed to the plan.

Two weeks ago, Overby told WTSB News he believes the building should be sold. Overby believes there is still good use for the building by a private individual or business but not for the town.

“I don’t want to see the fundraising go south and expect the taxpayers to be on the hook to complete the project.”

“The Town of Selma is the owner of the building that the American Legion Post sold to us,” Overby said on his website. “As the owners we must follow the same process as new business coming into Selma to do. At this point there are no plans turn(ed) into the Town Hall so therefore the Council has no thoughts or suggestion as to a possible course of action this project is headed.”

“There should be a public hearing so that the taxpayers can be heard.”

Overby says the Town of Selma currently owns 14 additional properties and while the civic center may have been “a nice idea” Selma should divest of as much publicly owned property as possible.

Councilman Tommy Holmes told WTSB News two weeks ago that he agrees with Overby in that it is time for the building to be sold.