Tryon votes to sell community center at Harmon Field

Published 4:26 pm Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The community center building, part of the old Tryon Middle School, is officially for sale.

Tryon Town Council on Tuesday evening voted to state its intention to sell the building, although town attorney Bailey Nager said the sale process would likely take up to six months, since state recreation fund grant money was used by the town for the purchase.

Nager said the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would have to approve the sale, and the sale would have to be made at fair market value. Furthermore, any money derived from the sale would have to be reinvested in new recreational facilities and land.

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There has been discussion that the money could be used to renovate and upgrade the old Tryon Middle School outdoor gym, Nager said, but since the town already owns that he was unsure whether that would be approved.

&dquo;It will probably take six months to get through the conversion steps (with DENR),&dquo; Nager said. &dquo;It will not happen overnight.&dquo;

Tryon Arts & Crafts (TAC), which already owns half of the old Tryon Middle School, is definitely interested in purchasing the other half, mostly for the land that goes with it which they need to expand their current arts center facilities. TAC is in discussion with Tryon Little Theater (TLT) about a long term lease for the community center building, which TLT would like to make its permanent home for offices, performance space, and costume storage.

Nager asked council to give him authority to begin negotiations on a lease, which would allow TLT perhaps to move in much sooner than six months. But, TLT president Tommy Williamson said Wednesday that TLT is not interested in a lease under these conditions. Although there may be little likelihood anyone else would bid against TAC on the purchase of the old school building, until a purchase is completed, there is still some chance that another buyer might surface and purchase the building.

TLT cannot use the building as it is, Williamson said, and would not want to make extensive repairs before it could secure a longterm lease.

&dquo;Neither organization has the desire to simply lease the property,&dquo; Williamson said. &dquo;TLT does not wish to occupy the building when it likely will go out for public bid rather than a sure sale to TAC. Secondly, the building requires a tremendous amount of money to repair and upgrade.The wiring does not meet code and TLT has specific electrical requirements that will cost approximately $15,000 to correct/upgrade. The heat and air system in the central portion of the building is completely inadequate for TLT&squo;s needs as a performance space (another $15,000). The roofing system is basically failing ($35,000 to replace). The bathrooms require a complete upgrade to meet handicapped accessibility&ellip;the list goes on and on. TAC&squo;s estimates for repairs total nearly $135,000.

&dquo;On a positive note,&dquo; Williamson said, &dquo;at least council finally voted in favor of selling the building and now TAC can move forward in its effort to secure funding. I think that (the town) finally realizes what a wonderful opportunity this is for all parties involved.&dquo;