COA mulls uses for president's house


College of the Albemarle trustees are weighing what to do with the college's former president's house on a canal at the back of COA's main campus in Elizabeth City and shown here Wednesday, Aug. 23.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A committee reviewing possible uses for the former presidential residence at College of The Albemarle has identified three options, including demolition.

COA President Robert Wynegar told a committee of the college’s Board of Trustees last week that proposals for using the structure had included the college’s basic skills program, the marketing department and the COA Foundation.

There also has been some discussion about the prospect of COA renting the house to Sentara Albemarle Medical Center for uses that might include temporary housing for visiting physicians the hospital is trying to recruit.

Trustee Graham Twine told members of trustees Building and Grounds Committee, however, that he thought the house should be “in the back of a dump truck.” Twine’s reference was to demolition and removal of the structure, which has come to be be viewed by trustees largely as an expense and liability.

The house, located on a canal at the back of COA’s main campus in Elizabeth City, was used as a residence by former President Kandi Deitemeyer, who left in December to become president of Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. Wynegar is not living in the house and the college has been searching for an alternative use for the building.

Deitemeyer is the only COA president who has lived in the college-owned house.

Joe Turner, COA’s chief operations officer, told the Building and Grounds Committee that if the building’s use changes from purely residential to a commercial or programmatic use it could trigger additional accessibility requirements.

Paul O’Neal, the trustee board’s chairman, said moving college programs into the house would not address trustees’ original concern, which was to get the building off the college’s expense ledger. He asked that Wynegar and Coleen Santa Ana, president of Sentara Albemarle and also a member of the committee, meet to discuss whether renting the house to the hospital would work.

Other than that, O’Neal said, it’s hard to see any viable use for the building.

“If the hospital can’t use it then we need to start looking at the dump truck,” O’Neal said.

Actually, though, there is one other idea.

Lisa Johnson, executive director of foundation and development, told committee members that there was an interest in moving the offices of the COA Foundation and the college’s marketing office into the house.

O’Neal said that might be a possibility if the foundation is willing to cover the cost of utilities.

The committee asked Wynegar to meet with Santa Ana and Johnson to discuss both the hospital and COA Foundation options, with the goal of having a recommendation ready for the December meeting of the COA Board of Trustees.