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City of Bamberg balks at receiving property from local church Print E-mail

Citing the prohibitive cost of doing a required assessment and if needed abatement, the Bamberg City Council unanimously “declined conveyance” to the city of a building located on the corner of Ott Street and Bridge Street belonging to Thankful Baptist Church of Bamberg, at their November meeting.

City of Bamberg Clerk/Treasurer Bruce Watson noted that because the city of Bamberg is a public entity and if it took control of the property from the church an assessment would have to be done which could cost up to $2,000 and if lead based paint or asbestos were found it could cost the city of Bamberg even more.

“It could cost a couple thousand dollars more to get people in white suits to abate the property,” Watson said, adding “if you didn’t do it (abate the property) they (EPA) would slap you with a big fine up to $10, 000,” Watson added.

In opening remarks on the discussion of the property; Councilmember Bo Griffin, who chaired the Ott Street property committee, noted that there were some “concerns about environmental hazards” associated with the property and he had consulted with the sanitation department about tearing down the building which he said was in “pretty bad shape” and represented a “hazard for young children living in the area.”

Griffin noted that he had spoken with DHEC officials and was informed that lead- based paint would not be an issue unless it was ingested or someone occupied the property. Griffin added that he could see no environmental problem in taking the building if the city tears it down. “It would be a better situation for the neighborhood if the lot were cleared off, if the church is inclined to donate the property to the city,” Griffin noted.

Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Foster noted that the tearing down of the building is something that needed to be done by the church. “The church needs to tear it down,” Foster said.

Also during the meeting:

• Business Licensing Commissioner Cynthia Summers reported that 44-45 businesses have not renewed their licenses so far this year, which she noted was “the same as usual.”

• In reference to citizens complaining about garbage not being picked up, clerk/treasurer Watson noted that per the contract with Waste Management Corporation trash needs to be placed in the green carts. Watson noted that Waste Management was not “obligated” to pick up trash outside the carts, “for safety reasons more than anything,” he said, adding that Waste Management Corporation has been “a joy to deal with.”

• After a report about recent and upcoming events Mayor Alton McCollum noted that anytime a festival or event is held on city property “please come and notify council so preparation and suggestions could be made.”

• Fire Chief Timmie Taylor reported that with the retirement of Phil Shealey from the fire department for medical reasons, the position of engineer is open and the department will be looking at applications this week.

• In the financial report it was stated the city’s finances are at “33 percent.”

• In the parks and recreation report Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Foster reported the city has received $15,000 from Representative Bakari Sellers toward upgrading the basketball courts at the Ness Sports Complex and was in the process of completing a PARDs grant that was “pretty much ready” and needed to signed off on by Rep. Sellers and Sen. Brad Hutto. “We may not get all of what we want with the basketball court, but the committee is pretty much pleased,” Foster said.

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