Old service center remains an eyesore

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WINTON – The demolition of an eyesore along a major Hertford County thoroughfare has been delayed again.

At their regularly scheduled meeting here last week, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners tabled an agenda item regarding the approval of a bid for demolition of the MST Building (the old J&J Service Center) located on US 258 Business in Murfreesboro.

The item has previously appeared on the commissioners’ agenda.

This time around, the vote was 3-1 in favor of tabling the bid approval process. Commissioner Curtis Freeman cast the lone “no” vote, saying the property is hazardous.

“If we don’t get something done quickly, we will wind up paying much more than $8,000 (the approximate quote presented by two of the four bidders),” Freeman said. “I went by there recently and saw some kids playing (on the property). I stopped and ran them off.”

Commission Vice-Chair DuPont Davis put a motion on the floor to table the item until the board’s next regular meeting (April 5). He was joined by Commissioners William “Bill” Mitchell and Howard Hunter III in voting yes.

During discussion of the issue, Davis questioned the wide range of quotes submitted by the four bidders – from a low of $4,350 to a high of $14,500. Additionally, Davis was under the assumption that one of the bidders submitted their paperwork past the deadline. He later learned that was not the case, but the motion to table to issue had been approved by that point of the debate.

Addressing the vast difference in the bids, Hertford County Manager Loria Williams informed the board that she had invited all contractors submitting quotes for the demolition work to go to the site in an effort to see exactly what the work involved.

“We had this happen before (with the first round of bids); as you can see there is a wide disparity of bids in this round of bidding as well,” Williams said. “That’s why I preferred to have the contractors personally visit the site so they could see the complete scope of the work it will take to demolish the building and clear the property.”

In both cases, Hertford County used an informal bid process, meaning the dollar amount associated with the work fell under a pre-determined threshold ($15,000) separating it from being deemed a formal process. Additionally, informal bids can be taken by fax or telephone; whereas formal bids must be legally advertised and presented in a pre-determined fashion.

No matter which bidding process was used, Commissioner Mitchell said he was tired of seeing this issue come before the board with no results.

“I’d like to see us move on this; award a contract for the work at our next meeting,” Mitchell said.

Through tax foreclosure, the property is owned by Hertford County. According to Williams, the property does have some level of contamination, but, “not at the level of it being harmful to the public,” she said during a later interview.

“We could have sold this property as is, but we decided not to pass these problems onto an unsuspecting buyer,” Williams added.

She said town of Murfreesboro officials have, on several occasions, encouraged the county to clean-up the property.