School board members skeptical about Southern Pines offer

An offer by the Town of Southern Pines to purchase Blanchie Carter Discovery Park was met with skepticism by some members of the Moore County Board of Education in their meeting on Sept. 7. The four-acre park, described by some as a playground, is located within the land that once was the Southern Pines Primary School. The board is still in negotiations to sell another parcel of land at the same site to the Southern Pines Land & Housing Trust. 

“I believe the Land Trust and the Town of Southern Pines have been acting in bad faith,” said Moore County Board of Education member Robert Levy. He went on to say that selling a portion of the land to the Southern Pines Land & Housing Trust, then agreeing to sell another portion to Southern Pines, would lower the value of the entire property.

“No matter what we do (with the land trust) they are going to scheme with the Town of Southern Pines to totally lower the price and the value of the property,” said Levy.

“I believe that the Town of Southern Pines has intervened to really destroy the value of the property,” added board member David Hensley. 

The matter will be taken up again at the next school board meeting.

Former Aberdeen Elementary School Property

The Town of Aberdeen will have more time to provide an offer to purchase the site of the former Aberdeen Elementary School from the Moore County Board of Education. The move by the school board yesterday comes after a six-month due-diligence period expired on August 20 without a formal purchase offer. After a long discussion, board members agreed to wait until their next meeting on Sept. 13 to see if the town will submit an offer.

School boards are permitted by North Carolina law to negotiate with municipalities, as long as the land is sold for fair market value. The board expressed the intention to offer the property to the town for not less than the appraised value of $1.3 million. If an agreement cannot be reached, it will be sold to the highest bidder.

New Traffic Pattern for Aberdeen Elementary

In another matter,  John Birath, executive officer for operations for the school district, told the board that a new traffic pattern has solved the problem of cars backing up on N.C. Highway 5 waiting to enter the new Aberdeen Elementary School. Early last month, an accident involving a passenger vehicle and a school bus at the intersection of N.C. 5 and Farrell Parkway caused school leaders to rethink the route parents are allowed to take while dropping off and picking up children at the school.

Now, cars must take a longer route to the front of the school. By allowing cars to stack up along the entire length of Farrell Parkway, then circle through the school bus lot, it has alleviated congestion at the intersection where the accident occurred.

Birath also said that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has agreed to lower the speed limit on N.C. 5 from 55-mph to 45-mph and to look into adding directional signs.

The installation of a traffic light at the intersection is not warranted, according to NCDOT, and will not be permitted. The Town of Aberdeen had required the developer of the property to install a traffic signal, but it was never done since the state would not approve it.

Also, now that the new traffic plan is not causing backups on N.C. 5, the idea of hiring off-duty Aberdeen police officers to manage the intersection will be set aside. The school district had said that using their police staff to direct traffic was not permitted since the backup occurred at a location that was not connected to the school property.

All in attendance wore face masks for the entire meeting that lasted just over five hours. It was held in the boardroom of the Moore County Schools Central Services building in Carthage and was livestreamed, as is the practice for all such public meetings. 

The next meeting will be on Monday, Sept. 13 beginning at 6:30 p.m. West Pine Elementary School has been chosen as the meeting site. As is customary, public comment will be permitted. The school can accommodate the number of people that ordinarily attend meetings where public address is allowed.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.

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