City would take ownership, pay back taxes for reinvestment purposes

Havelock commissioners took another step toward getting rid of an abandoned dump site near Tucker Creek with a unanimous vote on Monday night.

The board voted to sign an agreement with Craven County toward the development of the old Phoenix Recycling site near Tucker Creek. The agreement calls for the city to eventually take ownership of the property currently owned by the county. The city would look to pay back taxes of about $23,000, money the county would then reinvest for development.

“I think it represents a good partnership between the city and the county,” said Mayor Will Lewis. “The county has been dealing with it for a long time and we’re coming along with a solution and they decided last Monday that they were happy to partner with us on a solution. It’s great.”

The city is looking to redevelop the site as a park or housing subdivision.

The 34-acre site forms a triangle between the McDonald Downs subdivision, the Tucker Creek subdivision and Tucker Creek Middle School. It operated as Phoenix Recycling for less than 10 years when the N.C. Division of Waste Management ordered it be closed in 2000 for failing to adequately recycle all the materials in the dump. The company declared bankruptcy, leaving about 200,000 cubic yards of material.

“It has kind of been idle since that point and nobody has really had control of it,” City Manager Frank Bottorff said.

Testing at the site showed no contamination of neighboring water wells and levels of hazardous chemicals that were generally below state standards.

County commissioners approved the plan on Sept. 21.

Havelock Commissioner Danny Walsh said former commissioner Eva Sermons, former Mayor Jimmy Sanders, and former city staffer Diane Miller deserve a lot of credit for the agreement.

“The three of them drug me along for the last 12 years convincing me that this was the right thing to do,” he said.

Walsh said that he had been skeptical about the potential for cleaning up the site, with early cost estimates as high as $7 million.

“My thought was to cover it up, leave it alone and let it grow kudzu on it,” Walsh said. “They fought long and hard and now you all have taken over the mantle and carried it forward.”

In other business Monday, the board:

-- scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. Oct. 26 to hear from residents about a proposed no wake zone for part of Slocum Creek near where a kayak launch is under construction.

-- agreed to hire Piedmont Triad COG for $23,700 to $25,600 to perform a pay and class study of Havelock employee wages.

-- agreed to provide the Havelock-Craven County Public Library with up to $6,000 for the purchase of 270 books for pre-school through middle school readers.

-- accepted a check for $21,534 from the Craven County ABC Board.

-- read a resolution celebrating the accomplishments of the Havelock H.E.A.T. Track Club for top finishes in regional and state competitions and the National Junior Olympics Track and Field Meet.

-- appointed Karla Liner to a seat on the Havelock Board of Adjustment.

-- appointed Charles Adams, James MacRoberts and Cherrie Sanders to seats on the Havelock Recreation Advisory Board.