Council OKs Buying Bank Building for New Library
By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
July 20, 2012
In the Council chamber filled with members of Friends of the Library, Town Council yesterday authorized Mayor Dora Sullivan to sign a purchase contract for the former Bank of America building.
The building would be used for several purposes, including storing Town records in the bank vault, but the main use would be for a new library on the ground floor. The 3,000 square feet available would be about double what the library has now.
Although no public comments were permitted, Friends of the Library had already given their informal approval to Town Council, and members showed up to support the decision.
After Bank of America vacated the building in March, it was put up for bid. Town Council was told that the highest of four bids received was $200,000, and the bank offered the Town a chance to match that bid.
There is no money in the budget to buy the building, so the Town plans to take money allocated in a 2010 bond issue to connect two new wells to the Town waterworks.
Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek suggested that the money needed for the wells could be recovered from hookup fees charged to new water customers. He cited two possible sources — fees from Echelon Resources, who plan to build 17 apartment units in the Town’s old school building, and fees from the envisioned Southport Yacht Center.
Councilman Frank Wendell observed that the Town had already voted to reduce hookup fees for Echelon Resources by 75 percent.
There was confusion among council members over just what a “yes” vote meant. Joan Natali thought the vote was only preliminary, and that Council would have another opportunity to make a final decision. But Panek explained that Council was actually voting to authorize the Mayor to sign the contract. There would be no further vote, although the Town would have a 30-day period to inspect the building.
There will also be no public hearing.
When Mayor Sullivan signs the contract, the Town must make a non-refundable payment of $20,000 earnest money.
Councilman Wendell was the only member who voted no. He said although he supported a larger space for the library, Town Council should inspect the building before — not after — signing a contract.