New Bern Board of Aldermen Table Agenda Item, Reverse Decision and Call for Special Meeting

Talbots Lots in downtown New Bern, NC
Talbots Lots in downtown New Bern. Photo by Wendy Card.

During the Jan. 24, 2023, meeting of the New Bern Board of Aldermen (BOA), Alderman Rick Prill made a motion to remove item #9 “Consider Adopting a Resolution to Sale 304 and 308 South Front Street” from the agenda and reschedule it for the Feb. 14 meeting to allow for “sufficient time to be allocated for public input on that matter.” Upon a roll call vote, the motion passed 5 – 2, with Mayor Jeffrey Odham and Alderman Bobby Aster voting against it.

The process was initiated by Former Alderman Sabrina Bengel during the Aug. 9, 2022, meeting. She said, “I think it’s time we put a sign on the Talbots lot, a nice big sign because that’s an important lot in downtown New Bern. I think we should sell it…maybe somebody might have a great idea and want to, want to do something with that lot and make it beneficial to our downtown.” She asked the board if anyone was against it. No one objected. She looked at City Manager Foster Hughes and said, “there you go, you got direction.”

The “Talbots lots” were declared surplus property and a minimum bid of $750,000 was established during the Nov. 8 meeting. According to the Jan. 24 meeting agenda, “After receiving an offer of $825,000 from Betty Wilson, the Board adopted a resolution on December 13 to initiate the upset bid process. The bid was advertised, but no additional bids were received. The property was acquired by the City in July of 2000 utilizing funds from the Municipal Service District (“MSD”). If the property is sold, proceeds from the sale will be placed in the MSD fund.”

On Jan. 26, Mayor Odham sent a letter to the city clerk asking for a special meeting to be called for the BOA to “Entertain public comment for the sale of 304 and 308 South Front Street and consider adopting a resolution to sell 304 and 308 South Front Street.” The meeting is scheduled for Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. at the New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce.

New Bern Now requested comment from the board and city manager a received the following:

Alderman Bob Brinson reminded NBN that the previous board gave direction to start this process, so the details were included in this article.

Alderman Prill responded, “Thank you for helping to get word out. It’s important for the Board members to hear from residents on both sides of this issue before rendering a decision.”

Alderman Barbara Best wrote, “Thank you for the service you provide to our citizens.”

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By Wendy Card, Editor