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COA panel struggles to decide building's future

082317PresidentsHouse

Members of College of The Albemarle's Building and Grounds Committee continue to deliberate what to do with the college's former president's house, shown in this file photo from August. Trustees have decided not to continue using the structure as the president's residence.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, November 20, 2017

Nearly a year after former President Kandi Deitemeyer left College of The Albemarle for another community college president’s job in Charlotte, COA officials continue to deliberate what to do with the college-owned house she lived in.

After Deitemeyer — the only COA president to live in the house — vacated the residence last December, COA officials — citing concerns about the structure, particularly mold and moisture issues — opted not to continue using it as a residence for the college’s president.

Since then, however, the college’s Board of Trustees has struggled to decide what to do with the house, which is located on a canal at the back of the campus.

Trustee Graham Twine, citing his experience in the construction business, has advocated demolishing the structure unless the college is prepared to continue using it as a residence.

Twine, of Gates County, told fellow members of COA’s Building and Grounds Committee last week that while he hates to see any house torn down when it can still be used, he doesn’t see any way to convert COA’s structure to a non-residential use without major difficulty and expense.

Trustee Roger Lambertson, who co-chairs the Building and Grounds Committee, said he changed his mind about the house after touring it with a couple of other college officials. He said that based on reports he had received before his visit, the house was in much worse shape than it appeared to be.

Committee members decided they could not make a recommendation to the full Board of Trustees at the board’s December meeting, agreeing instead to revisit the issue at the committee’s meeting in January.

Board Chairman Paul O’Neal said it’s important that the full Board of Trustees take up the matter at its February 2018 meeting — even if the Building and Grounds committee is unable to make a recommendation.

“The board just needs to make a decision,” O’Neal said.

The options for the house under review include using it for a relocated sailing, kayaking and canoeing center (the center would be moved from its current site on Riverside Avenue); moving either the COA marketing department or the COA Foundation into the house; or moving the house to another site.

Joe Turner, the college’s chief operating officer, told members of the Building and Grounds Committee that the canal location would work well for canoes and kayaks but is not well suited for sailing because it’s located in a “wind shadow.” 

Committee members also expressed significant reservations about moving the house.

Turner told the committee the cost to move the marketing department into the building would be about $10,000. Among the improvements the structure would need is fiber optic cable service, he said. Also, one room on the building’s ground floor may need to be raised to accommodate equipment for the print shop.

As Turner reported on that option O’Neal questioned whether college officials had moved away from their previous intention for the house. O’Neal said his understanding had been that the college no longer wanted to have responsibility for the structure’s operating costs.

“My question is: Have we changed our mind about the operating expenses?” O’Neal asked.

O’Neal said if the college is going to continue using the house and covering the cost of its upkeep, then the best use for the house is actually as a residence for the president.

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