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East Spencer board to discuss future of Dunbar Center

By Shavonne Walker


EAST SPENCER — Members of the town board have been in talks for months about what to do about the Dunbar Center since a December fire left the building in ruins, and they will again discuss plans at today’s meeting. The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. at town hall, 105 S. Long St.

Since the Dec. 30 fire, which was intentionally set, the town has been exploring ways to help clean up and redevelop the property. The town consulted with state and local officials about options for the site, which the town does not own. The board made the decision earlier this year to seek a federal brownfields assessment grant. The grant program means the town could have the property assessed, which could lead to a clean-up and redevelopment of the historical property.

The board has met with Joe Morici of Cardno Associates, who will prepare the town’s application. He told the board at a previous meeting the town could conduct an assessment of the Dunbar Center without owning it, but cannot conduct a clean-up of the property without owning it. The company will work at no cost to the town, but will receive payment through grant reimbursement.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will accept applications in September through mid-November, with a decision on which town received the grant to be announced next spring.
Town officials say if the town receives the grant it could still take a year to determine what needs to be done to clean the site. Through the grant, the town will also be able to test other vacant sites in town to determine future development potential.
Work on the center, if the town can proceed further with clean-up, may not take place until 2017 or 2018.
The board will also discuss:
• A request to rename a street in honor of native Essie Mae Foxx by her granddaughter LaSheka Foxx Walker. Walker asked if the town could consider renaming Nash Street or another street in honor of Foxx, who has been a supporter and community organizer of the Dunbar Center reunion. The reunion will take place later this week.
• An update on a statewide mutual aid agreement for emergency response.
Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.



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