Déjà vu: Is Lumberton About to Get Duped Again??
Last night there was a special call meeting at city hall. The meeting was called to renew the contract with the Lumberton Fire Department Support Group and to vote on a lease agreement on the old Lumberton Hospital with Jack Delk of Magnolia Gardens Assisted Living, Inc. Mayor Miriam Holder and Bobby Gibson, Alderman at Large/Mayor Pro-Tempore were not at last night's board meeting. Alderman Kent Crider presided over the meeting. The board reviewed the contract with the Lumberton Fire Department Support Group. There were some questions about the new officers and members of the support group but Jerry Walters, LVFD Chief, did not have a list of the new officers. Walters stated that the election was held in April and he submitted a list to the board shortly after the election. Walters also noted that he applied for a scholarship program for Jr. firefighters and the grant was approved and he will be implementing that program shortly. The lease with the Lumberton Fire Department Support Group was renewed, but it will not be signed until it is reviewed by the city attorney.
When Jack Delk started discussing his interest in the Lumberton Citizen Hospital, I, along with several other members of the audience, had a déjà vu moment. It seems that we heard this conversation before. Delk stated that he wanted to open a personal care facilty in Lumberton and he wanted enter into a lease agreement with the City of Lumberton to lease the building for one year so he could get the building ready for occupancy. In the contract he presented to the board, he would lease the building for $1.00/month for 12 months, but he said he wanted the option to extend the lease if he didn't finish his work in the first year. Delk repeatedly made references to the poor condition of the building and the hefty amount of work that's needed to get the building ready. Delk also stated that he's only seen the hospital at night, while peering through a window with a flashlight. Delk also stated several times during his negotiation that he didn't have the money to fix the building and would like the City of Lumberton to help him secure grants to bring the building up to standard. But before he ended his presentation/negotiation, Delk stated that he did have financial backing and would like to buy the building. Now this is when the flags went up all over the place. But the worst part of this deal is that once the City of Lumberton accept the lease agreement, Delk has a provision in the lease agreement that states that the "building shall not be leased, sold or transferred by Lumberton without the written consent of Delk or the termination of this agreement." Delk stated on several occasions that he didn't have the money to hire contractors and electricians, but he wanted to lease the building to establish a personal care facility, but in the same breath, he said he did have the means to get money to buy the building. Which brings us to our déjà vu moment.
This is the same smoke and mirror show that was used to get the Movie Star building. There was a businessman that came in and enticed the board with his visions of grandeur. He said that he wanted to purchase the Movie Star building in order to open a restaurant. The board and the citizens of Lumberton were all for this new venture. In an effort to keep the business man honest in his endeavors, the board of aldermen made the stipulation that a business must be opened at the location before the building could be sold to someone else. The board then sold the building for something like $50,000 and it cost the City of Lumberton $75,000 to repair the roof of the building. So, the sale of the building actually cost the citizens of Lumberton $25,000. Later, the shrewd business person fulfilled his contractual obligations to the City of Lumberton by opening a salvage store for a few weeks and then shut the building down and put in on the market for $350,000. Despite reports that Mile Smith purchased the Movie Star building, he's actually leasing the building for the J & R Tool and Die Company, but there's no word on when he's going to start hiring/production. Whenever the details of the deal regarding the Movie Star Building is brought up to the current board, they are quick to say that the deal was handled by the previous board, but now they're having their Ground-hog Day moment. Delk is dangling his carrot,(promises of jobs) before this current board of aldermen and it seems that his main purpose to finish the work of Movie Star bandits (click on officers and directors) and finish the quest to take ownership of another coveted property in Lumberton. When Delk presented his idea to the board it seemed like a good proposal, but now that more and more details are coming to light, it seems that our city is about to be scammed out of yet another building and the loss will again be passed on to the residents of Lumberton. Hopefully, before they sign a lease agreement, Mayor Holder will insist on some benchmarks that should be reached at the 30, 60, 90, 120 days mark; and each month Delk should either present his progress at the board meeting or via notarized letter, otherwise, the board shouldn't consider any extension of the 12 month lease and shake the dust from their feet.