After a long closed session held by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners at the Thursday, May 18 meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to spend $100,000 to purchase Erwin Montessori School on Bessemer Avenue in Greensboro.
The school – along with two other schools in the city – was badly damaged in 2018 by a tornado and it has been abandoned ever since.
It’s kind of strange that the county has to purchase school buildings from the school system since the county pays to build the schools in the first place. However, that’s the way government works in North Carolina.
After the meeting, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said the board hadn’t decided exactly how the school would be used and he added that it will take a major effort to make the building habitable again.
“There will need to be a lot of repairs,” Alston said.
He said that county staff was currently assessing what repairs and renovations need to be undertaken before the structure can be put to use. After the tornado hit the school five years ago, the building was deemed unsafe for occupancy. The Guilford County Board of Education announced last year that it intended to put the tornado damaged school up for sale.
Alston said the commissioners hadn’t yet decided the exact use of the school, but he added that it was his hope that it will become a facility that can provide housing for those in need – such as a place for those undergoing recovery from drug addiction or mothers with children who need transitional housing.
Alston said that he definitely does expect the site to play a role in the major effort this year to address the homeless problem in Guilford County, which Alston has put at the very top of the county’s priorities list for 2023.
Lip flapping BS. The place is a dump so bulldoze it. I don’t need to pay more taxes knowing you will waste current tax dollars on the new schools you want to build.
You know all about contracting. Tells us what you are going to fix, and how you will do it, Skip.
Five years ago, the city asked the neighborhood what they needed. The response was support for rebuilding after the tornado, increased police presence, and a safe place for kids to play. However, when the tornado money was dispersed, few residents received any of it. Residents were also told that the school would close due to dangerous conditions and the cost of asbestos remediation.
The proposed homeless shelter raises many questions for residents. What is the model being used for the shelter, and is there a plan for evaluation before construction? How long will the shelter be in place, and will the county offset homeowner property depreciation? Residents have not been invited to share their input on the shelter’s plan.
East Greensboro is a thriving neighborhood, and this shelter seems like a step in the wrong direction. Instead, it may increase health risks, encourage drug use, theft, and put our kids in danger. Therefore, we urge the county and city to suspend this project indefinitely, audit the participants process and plans before any conclusions are made on behalf long term residents.
The devil is in the details.