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Official eyes utility building alternatives
Before the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission moves forward with the construction of a new administrative building, one member wants the new utility board that will be seated in January to know there are other options.

In fact, says Glynn County Commissioner Bob Coleman, the decision on how to proceed should be made by the expanded, seven-member board. He also wants it to be aware of all possibilities.

"We have money, but we don't have to spend it," said Coleman, one of five current members of the board. "There are other adequate buildings available, and we need to consider them."

One property owner, Brady Turner, is offering space in a historic downtown building on Newcastle Street that Coleman says is a prime example of a potential alternative.

The two-story building that once housed the Royal Hotel, at 1612 through 1618 Newcastle St., was restored in 1990 and features 11,600 square feet of office space and 50 off-street parking spots. The building will become available in January.

"This is just a suggestion, and if anyone else wants to come forward with properties let them," Coleman said. "I think we should definitely wait until the new board sits. We don't need to make any purchases right now."

Two of the new board members will be selected in the Nov. 6 general election and three others will be named by the Glynn County Grand Jury. One city commissioner and one county commissioner also will serve on the board for a total of seven members.

The purchase of the old Days Inn property on Gloucester Street -- which cost the board more than $850,000 to acquire, raze and clean up -- left a bad taste in Coleman's mouth. He's been trying to gather support from the public and other utility board members to halt the work.

Joint Water and Sewer Chairman Clyde Taylor, who also is a county commissioner, feels the utility board needs more information and more time before deciding what to do.

He said the board will discuss it when it meets at 3 p.m. Thursday at the old Barnett Bank, 700 Gloucester St.

"I'm getting tired of it," Taylor said. "I feel like we're being rushed to make a decision and we're not ready to make a decision yet."

Gathering input from Teamwork Services, the business that handles human resources and office tasks for the utility, and from utility director Keith Morgan and his staff is important before moving forward," Taylor said.

"Maybe we should pull back and hear all the options and maybe let the new board decide," Taylor said.

Not everyone agrees with that. Commissioner Tony Sammons, who sat on the board when the purchase of the Gloucester Street property was made, says the board should honor its commitment and continue with the construction of a headquarters.

"How do you justify ending a contract for something we've started?" Sammons said. "The longer we wait the more money we waste.

"The site fits what we need. It's got access to customers, it's a good size. We'll be able to sell an acre. We need to stay with the original plan."

Commissioner Cornell Harvey says the utility board must be open to all opportunities and find the right facility to serve its customers.

"I know there are people telling us not to build (at Gloucester Street), and that's their prerogative," Harvey said. "We started this and we delayed for some reason and we just need to complete it."

City Commissioner James Brooks, the fifth member of the board, did not return calls Tuesday.

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