Thu09182014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Resident suggests town raises rent for nonprofits

In previous meetings the Colonial Beach Town Council has recognized the need to clean house, so to speak, when it comes to deciding what to do with unused excess real estate the town holds title to.
Among the list of town-owned properties are the buildings on Hawthorne Street starting with the Old Building and Zoning office rapping around the corner of Irving Ave to the Klotz building.
The building that housed Building and Zoning and the old police station have been vacated since both entities have moved to their new homes next to Get & Zip on Route 205 and at the Beach Gate.
Both the Police Station and the Klotz building on Irving Avenue have been deemed unsafe due to mold problems and other issue that put them in disrepair.
The Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce has been asked to vacate the Klotz building and now the group is seeking a permit from the town to occupy the old Building and Zoning office on Hawthorne Street right next to Town Hall, which seems to still be in good shape.  

The town has tentative plans to clean up the property on Colonial Avenue across from the old shopping center to build a government complex which would eventually hold the police department, Town Hall staff, Building and Zoning and possibly the School Board office.
The recent move of the police station has removed the urgency of a Government Complex and allows the town five years to make wiser decisions concerning the proposed Government Complex.
But in the meantime, the town needs to handle the empty buildings left in the block surrounding the Town Hall.
All non-profit organizations have in recent past leased space from the town for $10 a year as a courtesy. However, in these times of economic stress, citizens are asking why the town doesn’t raise the rent.
In particular, Luke Sydnor, who has recently taken advantage of the “open-forum style” in Committee Meetings, suggested at the Budget Committee Meeting last Thursday to raise the rent for the Chamber of Commerce to $500 a year if they grant their request to use the Old Building & Zoning building.

Coombes responded that the council needs to be fair in charging all non-profits the same amount.
Sydnor suggested raising the rent as each lease was renewed.
Coombes recommended preparing the resolution to rent the old B&Z to the Chamber of Commerce, which would get the matter on the table for discussion and the council can discuss the fee at that time.
When Coombes asked for Committee members’ comments concerning rent, Mayor Fred Rummage suggested the council should task Town Manager Val Foulds with looking at leases to non-profits in other jurisdictions and reporting back.
Next item on the agenda was to terminate the lease to the Humane Society in the Klotz building.
For the last 17 years the Humane Society has been housed in the Klotz Building. In the beginning, the Humane Society had used the front of the building to house animals but gradually became a storage area for traps and paperwork.
The driving force behind the Humane Society has always been and remains Pat Fitzgerald who now singlehandedly helps control the cat overpopulation in the Town of Colonial Beach. Fitzgerald helps people, who would otherwise be unable to afford it, get their cats spayed or neutered.
All abandoned cats go to Wendy Erskine who runs her own non-profit rescue for cats in Westmoreland Shores.
Councilman Kennedy questioned whether the Town Council was being premature in asking the Humane Society to vacate the building when it is only being used as storage. Kennedy said that the council or committees have not even decided what to do with the building.
After speaking with Pat Fitzgerald, it was determined that only a small space was needed. Although the town plans to close the Klotz building by the end of December, the Humane Society Equipment can and should remain until the town decides what to do with the building or alternative space is found to house the equipment.    
Anyone interested in donating to or adopting a cat can call Wendy’s Feline Friends at (804) 224-1079 or anyone wishing to help the Colonial Beach Humane Society can contact Pat Fitzgerald at the rescue squad at (804) 224-7750.

Linda Farneth

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