City Weighs Bids for Greenfield Reserve Center

Wilmington, NC – Desirable multi-use property in quiet residential neighborhood. Lakefront view. Convenient access to shopping, public transportation, and recreation options.

All you have to do is convince the City of Wilmington you'd be the best tenant.

A subcommittee of City Council members is currently weighing proposals to take over the Naval Reserve Center at Greenfield Lake, which the military declared surplus property in the last Base Realignment and Closing process.

Girls Inc., Elder Haus, Cape Fear Community College, a consortium of homeless groups, and the city itself are all vying for the property. Depending on who wins approval, the facility may someday be used for basic education courses, transitional homeless housing, 24-hour elder care, recreation programs or offices.

A federal law, the Mckinney-Vento Act, requires that the government give homeless service providers "priority of consideration" with regard to surplus property, but can rule in favor of competing uses if they are considered compelling enough. The Lakeside Partnership Center, a joint effort by Good Shepherd Center, Wilmington Interfaith Hospitality Network, and Wilmington Housing, Finance, and Development, has applied to use the facility for 22 units of low-cost housing.

Good Shepherd's Executive Director, Katrina Knight, reports that Lakeside's proposal has met resistance from some residents in the surrounding neighborhood. Neighborhood concerns will be taken into account in the process, according to City Councilwoman Laura Padgett, who said the council couldn't prioritize the needs of the homeless over the wider needs of city residents.

Officials with some of the groups putting in proposals expressed concern about the city's possible conflict of interest. City employees are bidding for the space to house recreation and service programs and some Development Services offices. But councilman Earl Sheridan points out that the city has submitted bids for other projects in the past, such as the trash collection contract, which the city won in 2005.

Sheridan, Padgett the subcommittee's third member, councilman Jason Thompson, heard presentations from the five groups Monday. Afterward, Sheridan indicated the committee was leaning toward a candidate, but declined to say which.

"It's going to be a difficult decision," Sheridan said, "because they all have merit in one way or another."

The public will get a chance to voice its opinion on the Reserve Center at an upcoming city council meeting, following which the full council will vote on a proposal. Any selection will still need to be approved by the federal government. The building itself isn't slated for civilian control until 2011.