Controversy Surrounds Fort Johnston in Southport

MAY 31, 2006 -- A staple in North Carolina military history is now the subject of a controversy that has several groups vying for control over how the property is used.

Until 2004, Fort Johnston had been used for military operations over a two and half century span. It was once home to Civil War soldiers, the 37th U.S. colored troops, even the U.S. weather service.

Now, a Georgia-based church wants to house homeless people there and they have the blessings of the Housing and Urban Development better known as HUD.  The city of Southport wants to use Fort Johnston for parks and recreational space.  Now, some Southport residents have formed a group called "Friends of Fort Johnston."  They say they just want the site under state or national control to ensure its historical integrity is kept in tact.

The city of Southport has submitted an application to gain control of the property. The Georgia church and the Friends of Fort Johnston are in the process of doing the same. Any other groups wishing to submit an application have until July 11.

Reported by Nicole Ferguson