Craven Commissioners approve purchase of property for new county library

The Craven County Board of Commissioners have approved the purchase of property for a new county library near River Bend.

The Craven County Board of Commissioners has approved the purchase of land in River Bend for a planned county library. 

During the BOC’s Jan. 16 meeting, the Board voted unanimously to approve a contract to purchase 2.13 acres located on U.S. 17 North in the Town of River Bend for development as a new library location to serve Craven County residents.

The property, identified as Craven County tax parcel 8-206-27000, is located between Sunbelt Rentals and the entrance to Norbury Estates. 

The purchase price for the property is $360,000. Craven County Attorney Arey Grady explained that the offer was made between the property’s owner, Hwy 18 River Bend, LLC, and a third party identified in the purchase agreement as FISHBIT3, LLC, which will assign the contract to Craven County. 

“The offer was made through a shell company to give the county a little bit of anonymity during the negotiation process,” Grady said. “Because when the county is identified the price usually goes up considerably.”

The county has a due diligence deadline on the property of March 2 and a closing date of March 7. 

“That’s essentially to update the title work and make sure that we’ve got water and sewer ability and all that kind of stuff,” Grady told the Board. “Sometime in March I hope to be able to report that the deal has been finalized.”

County Manager Jack Veit said that now that the county has acquired the property it will be up to the BOC to determine when to move forward with the project. 

“What we saw over the last year was land was becoming very scarce in that corridor…If it wasn’t this site, I don’t believe there would be another one that would be as convenient for citizens that want to use it,” he told the Board. 

Veit suggested that the Board “develop the project as you see the timing, get in a capital improvement plan which then designates funding for that. Once you have that step done then we begin the design and move forward with that. But it’s completely at the pace of the Board’s desire.”

Veit said the property’s “great elevation” was one of its major draws.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of work on the lot already done because of the development of Sunbelt (Rentals),” he said. “There’s not a more perfect site for what we’re trying to do than that place.”

When Commissioner Chadwick Howard asked if the county would be seeking any state or other funding for the project, Veit responded, “I think we have to get a little further down the road with a conceptual drawing before that’s possible, but I would say absolutely.”

In response to a series of follow up email questions submitted by New Bern Now, Veit explained that the project was first discussed last spring as part of the capital improvement plan section of the county’s annual budget. 

“The BOC requested staff identify parcels of property suitable for a library facility along the Highway 17 corridor,” Veit wrote. “The search began after the budget was adopted in June 2023.”

According to Veit, there is currently no timeline in place for construction of the new library. He noted that the BOC would look at future construction timelines as they develop the county’s annual capital improvement plan during the budget process. To date, he said, no cost studies have been completed for the planned library.

“The project will go through the scoping/planning phase which will generate the preliminary cost estimates,” Veit wrote. 

According to Veit, plans for the new library will have no impact on the renovations and remediation work currently underway at the New Bern-Craven County Public Library.

By Todd Wetherington, co-editor. Send an email with questions or comments.