By Jacob Allen
The Williamston Post
The Williamston Community Center is in the process of being purchased by local businessman Timothy Baise, according to city officials and Baise. Baise has been a resident of Williamston for nearly 20 years. The community center, located at 201 School St., is currently owned by the city. A deal is in the works to sell the historical building within the next few weeks. If delays occur, the hope is the building will be Baise’s by June 1 at the latest.
The city of Williamston is going to sell the building, which currently holds the library, food bank and senior center, to Baise for around $200,000, according to City Manager Alan Dolley. Repairs alone, ignoring any renovation, would cost Baise around $500,000. The major repairs that must be done include replacing the leaky roof, fixing the water damaged ceilings and walls and repairing the boiler system. The boiler system is the building’s current heating system, but is nearly 60 years old. The system currently has no air handler or dryer, which has allowed moisture in the lines, causing a breakdown. Most of the thermostats and actuators are stuck open or shut causing some rooms to be either extremely hot or extremely cold with very little regulation capabilities.
“We are selling it for financial reasons. The city is putting anywhere between $60,000 to $100,000 a year into just utilities and general maintenance, this doesn’t include long-term maintenance issues,” said Alan Dolley, the city manager of three years. “Long-term maintenance issues include the leaking roof. A new roof on that building could be $200,000 to $300,000. It’s those types of things that the city just doesn’t have the money for.”
Councilman James DeForest is working with the city manager, attorney and Timothy Baise on a purchase agreement.
“It (the community center) is a drain on our limited financial resources and that’s why we are looking to sell the building,” said DeForest in an email.
The potential of the building has allowed Baise to see past the issues. He already has a plan for what he wants to do with the three-story brick structure.
“It (the community center) will make for a really good focal point for the city. It is a big building and it’s going to have lots of uses. Lots of people are going to use it from the library, to senior center, to retail to charity events. I think it’s going to be pretty cool and an opportunity for the whole community to get involved and do something a little bit bigger than what it has done in the past.”