City approves church design, recognizes arts council

by Daniel Bowden
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wilmington City Council unanimously approved a special use permit during its April 16 meeting for Pine Valley Church of God to allow the construction of a detached 9,500 square-foot recreation center at 3810 Shipyard Blvd.

This approval comes after a public hearing during council’s April 2 meeting when the item passed the first reading. At that time, council decided against waiving a second reading due to concerns from Mayor Pro Tem Earl Sheridan, Councilman Kevin O’Grady and Councilwoman Laura Padgett that the “industrial” look of the building would not blend with its residential surroundings. 

Council asked to see new renderings to replace exterior vertical steel panels with stucco panels, and modify square with rectangular windows. 

Council members appeared pleased with the new renderings on April 16.

“I really appreciate your responsiveness to our concerns,” said Councilwoman Margaret Haynes. “I think it’s a much more handsome building.”

The recreational structure will be used to host fellowship dinners, feed those in need and other church events, as well as for another activity Senior Pastor J.D. Simmons said was a very important part of his life — youth basketball.

In other action, council unanimously voted in favor of officially recognizing the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, an organization formed to promote and encourage art throughout the region.

When an earlier arts council closed in 2002 due to lack of funding, according to city documents, Wilmington was the only city of North Carolina’s 10 largest cities without an arts council. 

Eight years after the original arts council disbanded, a coordinated effort was launched between the North Carolina Arts Council, community stakeholders, art organizations and local government interests to put together a new group. 

This effort resulted in the creation of the Wilmington Area Arts Council, which would later be renamed the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County. Current executive director Rhonda Bellamy was appointed in July 2012, and a board of directors was formed shortly thereafter, with Dr. Eric B. McKeithan, former president of Cape Fear Community College, as its chairman. 

A project by Americans for the Arts examined the economic impact of arts and cultural organizations in New Hanover County during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The project estimated that arts and cultural organizations impact the local economy by about $6 million; patrons of the arts spend more than $15 million; arts and cultural organizations employ about 799 people for a combined income of $17.5 million and about $1 million of the revenue created by the arts goes to local government.

“In other words, the arts mean business,” Bellamy said. “The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County means business.”

This resolution does not have any budget impact at this time.


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