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Long-vacant ‘spec’ building may soon have occupant

As part of a plan to lease the industrial speculative building,Brookhaven aldermen voted Tuesday to seek a $250,000 state grant toprovide improvements to the long-vacant facility on WestManufacturer’s Boulevard.

The grant is part of a new state Rural Impact program to helpcommunities with various projects. While the chamber has beenworking on leasing the building, the city must apply for the grantfunds, said Chandler Russ, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce executive vice-president.

Russ said the grant would provide funding for a concrete floorand other building improvements. A warehouse distribution company,which has not been identified, is interested in leasing thespeculative building.

Environmental officials recently conducted soil and watertesting on the speculative building site. Russ said soil tests cameback “not in a good situation” and more results will be availablein about three weeks.

“They’re evaluating what they found,” Russ told city officialsTuesday.

Russ indicated the testing results would not impact thecompany’s plans for the building.

“The company is still interested in the facility,” Russsaid.

Under the proposal, Russ said the company would lease thebuilding for $2,000 a month for 10 years. At the end of thatperiod, the company would have an option to renew the lease orpurchase the building under a 20 percent buyout that would costaround $40,000.

Aldermen approved a resolution to seek the grant.

Russ said the warehouse operation was the only offer made on thespeculative building.

The operation will mean only seven new jobs. However, Russ saidthe important aspect was that the building, which has been vacantsince its construction in the late 1990s, will be occupied.

In other business, officials are planning to move quickly to useapproximately $400,000 in federal funding for the city’s airport. Arunway overlay project is planned.

“We’re going to fool around and lose it if we don’t dosomething,” said Mayor Bill Godbold.

Citing a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration,engineer Jeff Green Tuesday told officials that all AirportImprovement Program (AIP) grant activities must be completed bySept. 12. Project applications must be submitted by July 31.

“We need to expedite what we’re working on with the airport,”Green said.

The AIP funds do not require any local match, officialssaid.

Airport manager Boyce Bullock anticipated the runway overlaycould be done by the deadline. Once bids are received and acontract awarded, he said the project would probably take about 10days, with the runway having to be shut down for part of thattime.

In other engineering activity, Green said officials would soonbe finishing up other needed work and trying to determine the causeof a problem with the First and Second Street overlay project.Green said the surface is failing over a portion of the stormdrain.

“It baffles us all,” said Green, mentioning concerted efforts tomake sure soil was compacted properly during the project.

In garbage-related matters, former alderman L. Ralph Smithbriefly raised several questions regarding the city’s transferstation contract with Waste Management.

Smith said the renewal date is coming up in August. He urgedcity officials to make sure the city was getting a fair deal inrelation to what the station operator was paying to dispose ofgarbage taken in at the station.

“We need to evaluate what these receiving areas are charging perton to determine if we’re being treated fairly or not,” Smithsaid.

Later in the meeting, aldermen delayed action on a contractrenewal proposal from Waste Management. The three-year contractrenewal, which was approved Monday by supervisors as part of ajoint ownership agreement, calls for no increase this year in thedisposal fee of $33.30 per ton.

Aldermen are considering going to a private service for garbagecollection and did not want to act on the contract until aprivatization decision is made.