Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Pender commissioners greenlight $6M land purchase for new K-8 school

Pender County commissioners approves a $6 million purchase of 145 acres in Hampstead to build a new k-8 school. (Courtesy Pender County)

PENDER COUNTY — After years of angst about overcrowding in Pender County schools, property to build a new facility has been purchased and signed off on by commissioners.

READ MORE: Pender identifies land for school bond projects, RO plant for $13.9M

At their Monday meeting, the Pender County commissioners approved $6 million from its fund balance to secure a 145-acre parcel on N.C. Highway 210 in Hampstead. The property will be the future site of a K-8 school to alleviate the overcrowding in the Pender County Schools district.

In January, the district reported 90% capacity for its buildings with a total of 10,988 students — an 8.5% increase from 2021. The new campus, with a combined capacity to hold 2,000 students, would include an elementary school, for kindergarten through fifth grade, and a middle school, for sixth-through-eighth-grade.

County asset manager Andy Devane told Port City Daily in April there is sufficient room on the property for a possible high school addition in the future.

The county entered into contract for the land in February, according to the purchase agreement, and engaged Summit Engineer and ECS Southeast to handle the due diligence, now complete. The Pender County Board of Education has also confirmed the site is satisfactory.

County commissioner chair Jackie Newton pointed out at the meeting the county removed a 25-acre parcel from the purchase, originally identified for an additional entrance to the campus.

“It turned out to be much more went than we anticipated,” county finance director Meg Blue responded. “Landscape architects indicated they could reorient the site to not need that [portion].”

Blue also explained the commissioners can approve a resolution that will reimburse the county’s fund balance with bond proceeds if they choose to.

The Hampstead property was purchased from 12 combined owners of the land. According to the purchase contract, the sellers are responsible for costs associated with preparing the deed, excise tax, and conveyance fees prior to closing.

Groundbreaking on the k-8 school was initially scheduled to begin 2023 but the search to find suitable land pushed the timeline.

Pender County Schools announced at the June 13 board of education meeting, its partnering with Bordeaux-Mosely as the design-build team on the project. The process is anticipated to take about 12 months.

Construction is set to begin immediately following, in July 2024 and take roughly 24 months.

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