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Wilmington City Council opens former WAVE facility to bidders, approves new police truck

Published: Mar. 20, 2019 at 5:30 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wilmington City Council met for about an hour Tuesday night at City Hall.

Council heard updates on happenings in the city and voted on several proposals, including opening up the old WAVE Transit facility property to bidders, and allocating money for a new police truck and fire department generator.

Click or tap here to read the agenda.

Film, TV “coming back” to Wilmington

Johnny Griffin, a director, presented an update on the activities of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission.

“Today I come with good news," Griffin said during his presentation. “The film and television business in Wilmington is coming back.”

This year, current and confirmed TV and film projects total to about $100 million, more than double the spending in 2017 and 2018 combined, said Griffin.

“Since it’s only March, with any luck, we will see additional projects in 2019 that could push expenditure levels this year to the $150 million mark, once again, reaching historic averages," said Griffin.

Film and TV jobs are also on the rise with 250 people employed in Wilmington and a projected increase to 400 by the fall. Compare that to about 150 jobs in TV and film in 2017 and 2018, according to Griffin.

Making Wilmington green

Chair Sherry O’Daniel shared the Wilmington Tree Commission annual report, and Mayor Bill Saffo and City Council issued a proclamation designating March 22 as Arbor Day.

Property of old WAVE Transit facility now open to bidders

Wilmington City Council voted to approve a resolution allowing interested parties to submit proposals to redevelop the old WAVE Transit facility located at the intersection of Castle and 11th streets.

Preference will be give to proposals with components of workforce/affordable housing with any residential use based on 2017 guidelines, according to the proposal.

“Obviously, anybody who wants to make an offer has the right to do so," said Saffo. “If a proposal is shared with us that does involve condos, houses of any sort, we will then look favorably at those that do present something with affordable housing as a component of the contract.”

The request for proposals (RFP) will be officially published April 1 with a submission deadline of May 15.

Interested groups can tour the site on April 5. Staff will review the proposals on May 31, and City Council will decide on June 18.

“Council will evaluate the proposals and determine which is the best for the City of Wilmington, and make the sale based on that," said Saffo.

City council previously has postponed a decision, most recently to allow for a property valuation and create a request for proposal (RFP).

An appraisal submitted to city council values the property at $390,000. The city is asking for businesses and nonprofits to submit redevelopment proposals, including collaboration proposals.

Multiple groups have expressed interest in the property, including TRU Colors Brewing Company building a brewery, a former councilman proposing a job training center, the nonprofit Special Pedals, and more.

Wilmington Police Department gets funding approved for public housing, new truck

City council approved a request from the Wilmington Police Department to use a $4,000 award for community engagement efforts in public housing to continue reducing crime.

WPD won the financial award from the American Society for Industrial Security Foundation for its work reducing crime in public housing and building positive relationships between residents and police. WPD will allocate that money back into its public housing efforts, including community events and supporting a Cub Scout pack.

City council also approved a WPD request to allocate about $75,000 to purchase a customized vehicle to store and transport police equipment. In a presentation to city council, police described the truck as like “a big tool box.”

Not having a dedicated vehicle for equipment like a remote control robot, communications gadgets, hand tools, and more has forced WPD to leave equipment at headquarters that was later needed in the field, according to the proposal.

“Other departments around the country use this process, and we felt very strongly as a council that we should support their efforts,” said Saffo. “They did everything they could to reduce the cost of that vehicle from $120,000 to $75,000, and we think it’s money well spent.”

Police also said in a presentation that equipment is transported at times in the passenger seat of police cars, which creates a projectile hazard in the event of a crash.

“When there’s any incident of any sort, the police department is having to call in different squad cars to the scene with different materials, and different tools that they may need for a SWAT team, or for any kind of hostage negotiation," said Saffo. "Instead of bringing so many different vehicles, different people to the scene, we can bring all of that equipment in one vehicle, stored obviously in a safe place.”

The money to buy the special vehicle includes about $60,000 from NC drug tax revenue, and $15,000 in federal forfeiture revenue.

Wilmington Fire Department will get a replacement generator

The Wilmington Fire Department requested money to replace an 18-year-old generator at Fire Station 8 on Eastwood Road. Wilmington City Council unanimously approved the proposal.

Since before Hurricane Florence, a rental generator had been installed to make sure the fire station could remain in operation during a power outage. The new generator will cost about $134,000, and the fire department wants to replace it before June when the next hurricane season begins, according to the proposal.

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