ONLINE UPDATE: Town to assume Howell cottage ownership

by Kelly Corbett
Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Town of Wrightsville Beach will assume ownership of the historic Howell cottage, which is currently owned by the Wrightsville Beach Chamber of Commerce and houses the chamber and Visitor’s Center.

The chamber has owned the property for 11 years, first in a one-year ground lease and later a 10-year ground lease ending July 22, 2014.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen unanimously motioned to change the property’s ownership during the Thursday, April 10 meeting.

The cottage lease will be re-advertised and the item will come back before the board in a future meeting.

Sue Bulluck, chamber chairwoman, had requested the chamber foundation retain ownership for which about $30,000 has been invested in maintenance and repairs. The chamber also pays $1 in rent per year and about $850 per month in operating costs, including insurance, power, cable, waste and water.

“All that we are requesting is that it remain with some continuity,” Bulluck said. “… It’s the continuity with the membership.”

Town attorney John Wessell said the lease must expire before being renewed.

“We could just do the same lease for another 10 years,” Wessell said.

The board agreed the other terms of the lease would remain the same.

“I have zero interest in not renewing the lease,” Mayor Pro Tem Darryl Mills said. “… I think this entire board supports the chamber.”

The board also unanimously motioned to allow police chief Dan House to move forward with the downtown camera system replacement, estimated to upgrade and replace the six surveillance cameras and cost about $65,000.

“We found out today, that may just be a touch lower,” House said. “… We should be able to absorb all of it out of our drug fund.”

The project could be completed in June or July. Currently, the Wrightsville Beach Police Department is down to four out of six cameras with limited visibility for detective work.

Town manager Tim Owens said during the May board meeting, he would bring board members the contract, cost and a budget amendment.

“Our system’s not where it should be,” Owens said.

Board members scheduled a Tuesday, April 22 meeting at 5 p.m. to talk more in-depth about the town’s water supply as part of the budgeting process.

The full story will be published Thursday, April 17.


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