ELLERBE — Workers soon will begin remodeling the abandoned Fidelity Bank on Main Street, crafting it into a library that includes a computer room, a 20-by-30-foot drive-thru unit and, of course, bookshelves.
The move comes one month short of a self-imposed deadline Mayor Lee Berry declared last October when he said construction “definitely” would happen within 12 months.
Bids for remodeling the bank closed Sept. 10, with the city receiving one bid from Hawks Builders in Rockingham for $64,278. Council members officially accepted the bid this week.
“We hope that once we finish construction, everyone comes out to enjoy the library,” said a delighted Berry.
The nearly $65,000 bid will go toward such essentials as new flooring and lighting, the computer room and the drive-thru area in the children’s section of the library. Until this week, Berry and council members had lamented that “anybody’s plans are greater than our budget.”
The city labored under an unofficial deadline: Ellerbe’s Rankin Museum of American Heritage has been itching to expand into the end of the building it shares with the local library at the corner of Second and Church streets. And the library, formally known as the Kemp-Sugg Memorial Library, has been itching to move into its own space.
“How we remodel the facility depends on the budget,” Berry said last fall, declining to specify how big that budget was. He said it included grant money awarded awhile ago but never used.
“We’ve got some money set aside, (and) we’ll try to stick to that budget,” he said then. “We’re just waiting to see how everybody falls into the prices of doing some remodeling for us.” That is, any plan will depend on the bids the town receives for the project.
“We’re not going to start and run out of money,” Berry said. “I’d rather not start at all.”
Leath Memorial Library supervisor Shannon Hearne, former librarian at Kemp-Sugg, said she looked forward to the expansion.
“It’ll be great once the library is finally able to move in,” she said. “They’ll definitely have more room.”
No date has been set for the remodeling.
While the city prepares to remodel the former bank, two other properties are in the process of being torn down and cleared out.
During the town’s monthly meeting, Berry brought up two properties he considered an “eyesore” and a “nuisance.”
“There’s a dilapidated trailer that belongs to Sears Motors, and the owner has been asked to remove it,” Berry said. “And on Main Street, (Crouch’s Repair Service) is run down, has busted- out windows, and the roof is falling in.”
The trailer sits on the side of Railroad Street, behind tall trees and grass. It has rusted throughout and is filled with planks of wood and spider webs.
Crouch’s has been out of service for years and sports broken windows and faded paint, grass growing between the cement and a falling carport roof.
Berry said both property owners had been contacted several times and given several notices that they should clean up their properties, but the efforts met wih no success.
“Time is running out with these two community members to take action,” he said. “If we take action, there will be a lien put on the property until we’re reimbursed. We have to clean up the mess, and you have to pay us.”
The city contracts with with a private code-enforcement agency that began Monday seeking bids to demolish Crouch’s Repair Service and clear the abandoned trailer.
Reach Jasmine Hager at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]