Parker pitches plan to Ahoskie

Published 8:59 am Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AHOSKIE – Is there a plan in the works to move the Ahoskie Public Library into a larger building?

At last week’s Ahoskie Town Council meeting, native son Joe Parker, now residing in Raleigh, offered the town a building on West Main Street for possible use as a library.

Parker, son of the late J. Mayon Parker who co-founded Parker Brothers Inc. (the original publishers of what is today the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald), and his cousin, Roy Parker Jr., are co-owners of property located at 103-105 West Main Street. That building was the original office of The Herald and was later used as a grocery store, another print shop, a book store and currently as a clothing store.

“The building was built 90 years ago by my grandfather,” Joe Parker said as he addressed the Council. “The upstairs was of heavy construction to accommodate the linotype machines.”

Parker’s original intent for the property was to make an application to the town in regards to its faade grant program. He said there was a leak in need of repair near the front entrance of the building. Even though he could qualify for up to $2,500 (per store front) in matching funds from the town, Parker said repairing the leak would cost more than $5,000.

After handing the Council several color photos recently taken of the property, Parker pitched his idea of donating the building to the town.

“Roy and I have a deal for the town,” Parker noted. “Through my correspondence with Mr. (Tony) Hammond (Ahoskie’s Town Manager), it is my understanding that the town is looking for a place, consisting of at least 6,000 square feet, to move the library. Roy and I would like to offer the town this building for use as a library. We feel it will be a nice addition to the downtown area and one that will expand the downtown arts district as it is adjacent to the Gallery Theater.”

Parker stressed that although the building is 90 years old…“it’s in pretty good shape.”

To prove its worth, Parker said the building contained 7,120 square feet downstairs and 3,960 square feet on the second floor, one accessible by a stairway. He added that the second floor was remodeled around 1990. That space was partitioned and was used as offices and conference rooms.

At the time of the remodeling, both floors were outfitted with duct work and gas operated heating and air conditioning units were added.

“I want to enthusiastically second my cousin Joe Parker in his offer of the ancestral Parker building for a library or whatever the town thinks is most appropriate,” Roy Parker Jr. wrote in an email to Hammond. “Given the ancient lineage of the Parkers and their structures in Ahoskie, this would be an appropriate step for the town and the family.”

Roy Parker Jr. now resides in Fayetteville where he is the retired Editor of the Fayetteville Times.

After presenting his offer to the town, Joe Parker asked who would be responsible for hiring an appraiser to judge the monetary value of the building. Hammond answered by saying the town would hire an appraiser.

Speaking on behalf of the town, Hammond expressed interest in the generous offer made by the Parker family. He made arrangements with Joe Parker to view the interior of the building and will report those findings back to the Town Council at an upcoming meeting.