Saturday, April 1, 2023

Wilmington city hall gets $85,000 roof repainting, displaced protestors say they’re ‘adapting’

Signs posted on the safety fencing around City Hall as repainting work begins. (Port City Daily photo / Benjamin Schachtman)

WILMINGTON — Thalian Hall, which is also Wilmington’s City Hall, is getting a new protective roof coating to deal with chronic leaks. The process, which will take up to two months, has partially displaced downtown protestors — but organizers say they’re adapting to the new set-up.

On Wednesday, July 15, work crews began the work of adding a new protective coating to the metal roof of City Hall and Thalian Hall. The roof has suffered from water intrusion for years and the situation was exacerbated by Hurricane Florence in 2018.

The work is estimated to take six to eight weeks and will cost approximately $85,000. The contract was under the $500,000 threshold, so it did not require city council approval, according to a city spokesman.

According to the city, “for safety reasons, a fence will be placed along the Princess Street and 3rd Street sides of the building beginning tomorrow, July 14. The 3rd Street entrances to the building will be closed but the Chestnut Street entrances, including an ADA accessible entrance, will remain open.”

A side-effect of the protective fencing is that downtown protestors, who have been set up on the steps of City Hall since the end of May, have had to relocate to the side of the building.

It’s not clear when city staff made the decision to begin the repainting work, but protest organizers said they did receive a few days’ notice.

According to organizer Lily Nicole, the protestors are ‘adapting.’ She said the new location for the protestor’s main tent has given them the opportunity to have more conversations with pedestrians but also does place protestors closer to the street. One of the main issues between law enforcement has been protestors being in the roadway on North Third Street; Nicole also said some feel it is a safety issue.

Protestors have also taken advantage of the safety measures to post signs across the length of fencing across the front of City Hall.

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