Commissioners hope to break ground on Project Grace soon, but still awaiting LGC approval
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County is still waiting for financing approval on Project Grace from the North Carolina Local Government Commission.
During a lengthy meeting Tuesday, a county contingent met with State Treasurer Dale Folwell and the LGC to discuss the project.
Folwell says he has questions about the memorandum of understanding between the county and Zimmer Development, the private company set up to build the new library and museum.
The provision says if the LGC does not approve Project Grace, then the county can buy the plans from Zimmer Development for $2.5 million. Folwell wonders if that would be the best way for the county to spend taxpayer money.
“The community’s need for a new library or new museum, that’s not something that we’re focused on,” Folwell said. “We’re focused on how to do this most efficiently and finance it most efficiently for the long-term benefit of the taxpayers of our community, not for any individual’s benefit.”
County officials say the partnership is to ensure they can control the timing of developments on the private side of the block near the proposed museum and library.
Commissioner Deb Hays says even with a public-private partnership in place, the work is still being done through local builders. She believes the decision to move forward should be a no-brainer.
“We need to look for additional opportunities with which to bring in our community,” said Hays. “This is a 100% community project. The Zimmer’s have been long-standing members of this community, L3P has been long-standing members of this community, and Monteith Construction, same. They’ve been in this community for a long time, so it is truly a homegrown project. How could you not want to do that?”
Hays says the county sent a letter to the LGC asking for approval of Project Grace to be on the consent agenda for its September meeting. County leaders anticipate working with the LGC to answer further questions before that meeting.
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