Council accepts property gift

Published 8:53 am Thursday, April 10, 2014

AHOSKIE – Several months worth of talks, phone calls, and letters ended with a unanimous vote Tuesday morning at the regular monthly meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council.

The Council voted unanimously on a recommendation from town personnel to accept the “gifting” of the buildings at 123 and 125 W. Main Street to the town from property owner Alverta Bonds.

Bonds purchased the property in 1994 and had originally wanted it to be placed back into commercial use.

After years of deterioration, particularly to its front façade, the buildings were not merely an ‘eye-sore’ on West Main Street, but their dilapidated state had made them unsafe for not just for occupancy, but for neighboring buildings and even passersby on the street.

After a condemnation hearing in February with the town zoning officer, Bonds indicated this past winter that she did not wish to tear down the property, but rather was ready to begin renovation on the buildings. Early renovation estimates had a price tag of above $50,000.

Bonds later hired a contractor to repair the façade and asked Council at its February monthly meeting to assist her in attaining a façade grant to help shore up the front of the building.

After discussion at the February meeting, the Council referred Bonds’ request to the Ahoskie Historic Preservation Commission which met and came up with some recommendations and guidance to give Bonds on what the building should look like and guidelines the contractor should follow.  The Historic Commission then asked Bonds to appear before them at their March meeting.

However, by the end of February, Bonds appeared to have a change of heart. She spoke at that time with Town Manager Tony Hammond, asking if the town would be willing to accept her property if she ‘gifted’ it to Ahoskie officials.

Hammond requested, via the town’s attorney, a letter from Bonds explaining her property donation and that there were no loans or liens against it.

Bonds’ letter was presented to Council.

“Mrs. Bonds had the opportunity on several different occasions to sell the property to a couple of individuals who were interested in it, and for some reasons she decided she didn’t want to do that,” Hammond told Council.

Hammond explained that, possibly for financial reasons, Bonds decided against either the option of renovation or of paying for the property’s demolition. He further stated that should the town assume ownership of the property, they could put it up for sale and see if there was still interest in purchasing it.

If an offer to purchase was accepted, the property would then be advertised in the paper for upset bids.

“Or we could go ahead and tear the building down and convert it into some sort of greenspace.” Hammond said.

After minimum discussion, Councilwoman Elaine Myers made a motion that Council approve the recommendation to accept the property as a gift to the town, and it was seconded by Councilman C. David Stackhouse.

The Council’s vote was unanimous.