MOREHEAD CITY, CARTERET COUNTY - June 30th was the official last day of operation for The Coastal Academy for Technology and Science Charter School in Morehead City. The State Board of Education permanently revoked it's charter earlier this year.
Now the town of Morehead City wants to consolidate city operations and services at the now vacant building.
"Once upon a time we did operate in one building...in the municipal building when it was built in the twenties, including courts," said town manager David Whitlow.
However, over decades, as the city has grown, town operations and services have been spread out among three different locations. It's not efficient for town customers.
The town bought the building 2006 from the county for $1,000,000 and was leasing it to the charter school. Now that the charter school will no longer meet there the town is moving forward with it's plan. Town leaders are considering a number of options. They include adding on to the Municipal building on 8th Street, constructing an entirely new building and keeping the old school building but removing the wings. However, Whitlow says the preferred option is to use the existing school building, completely gutting the inside and possibly adding a chamber in the back of the building where the gym currently sits. Engineers have said the gym cannot be re-purposed and it would be more cost effective to tear it down. All of these options range from three to five million dollars. Studies and analyses are currently underway.
Concerning the school building, Whitlow says, "it needs all new wiring, it needs all new heating and air conditioning, it needs to be fully wired for all sorts of things that it's not currently wired for. It needs all new alarm systems, it needs lots of stuff.
The town manager says he hopes the impact to taxpayers will be minimal. Officials are currently deciding how they're going to pay for the project. Whitlow says the town is considering tax incremental financing for historic structures, possibly a bond referendum, or even renting out space in the building. The town manager believes in the end the project will be a win for the town and taxpayers.
"It becomes a one-stop shop," said Whitlow.
Town officials say the project could take two to three years.