09/13/17 — Work to begin on Foster Center

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Work to begin on Foster Center

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on September 13, 2017 5:50 AM

Work is expected to begin soon on renovations and repairs of the former W.A. Foster Center, a building rich in African-American history in Goldsboro.

After nearly 18 months of considering the future of the 1938 building, the Goldsboro City Council voted to move forward with renovation plans, estimated to cost $178,587.

The council is planned to consider the first contract of the project for asbestos removal, at a close $51,500 cost, during its meeting Monday, said Scott Stevens, city manager.

Other contracts for the project involve the reconstruction of the art room, at a $64,835 cost; repairs to the gymnasium, game room, foyer and roof, at $32,250; roof replacement over the art room, at $6,785; a new heating and air conditioning unit for the art room, $12,000; and a new floor in the game room, expected to cost $11,027.

Stevens said the city will contract each job, which could lead to a lower overall cost.

"We're still probably 10 months away from the building being ready," Stevens said.

The council wasn't unanimous in its decision during a 6-1 vote at its Sept. 5 work session. Councilman Gene Aycock cast the dissenting vote. Aycock is concerned about the increased cost for the project, after the city already committed to spending $150,000 in building repairs.

"We started off with $150,000," Aycock said. "We don't know if anyone's going to use it, and it's gone from $150,000 to $200,000."

The renovation project is one of five presented to the council. The options included demolition and asbestos abatement for $59,500; asbestos abatement with a partial building demolition for $137,977; asbestos abatement without any demolition for $210,597, including a new $20,000 roof; and partial asbestos abatement and partial building demolition for $105,597.

To cover the cost of the project, Mayor Chuck Allen suggested that the project allow city spending up to $200,000, which was supported by the council vote.

"We fundamentally agreed that we want this building to be a community building for the community," Allen said.

Repairs to the building follow more than a year of discussion, public meetings and consideration of a local nonprofit taking ownership of the building, following the city repairs.

In March, the council voted to allow the creation of a nonprofit that would include board membership from the city, Ashford's Boxing Club, the Little Washington Growing Group and the Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency. The nonprofit would be required to maintain the property and handle upkeep and operational expenses after taking ownership.

To date, discussions with the interested groups continue but no formal agreement has been reached with the city, said Octavius Murphy, assistant to the city manager.

The former W.A. Foster recreation center, at 516 Leslie St., was originally targeted for demolition after it closed in April 2016. Community interest in preserving the older building surfaced and led the council to delay its decision on the future of the property.

In its place, a new W.A. Foster Center opened in early 2016 as the city's newest recreation facility at 1012 S. John St.