Hopewell’s old jail property sold
HOPEWELL — The city finally found a buyer for the old jail property on Poythress Street, prompting some on City Council to remark that the land purchase and subsequent investment to develop it will offset the cost of a controversial dinner event Hopewell hosted last month to say thanks to its volunteers.
Poythress Development LLC is buying the 4,000square foot vacant building from the city for $9,000. It also plans to spend $100,000 to develop the property into an office building.
City Manager John M. Altman Jr. told council that the building had been vacant for 20 years but not because of lack of effort or interest in it.
“We were never able to get a project to move forward on it,” Altman said of the structure, located at 402 E. Poythress St.
The total amount of the sale — $9,000 — was not lost on Councilor Brenda S. Pelham, who cracked that the sale will help pay for October’s Boards and Commissions Dinner at The Boathouse. That dinner rang up at a total of $10,473, about $7,000 more than the last time the city held an appreciation dinner for its volunteers. Council never allocated money for the dinner in the city budget, but the decision was made to use leftover funds from the city clerk’s budget to cover the tab. That set off a firestorm of controversy among citizens and even some council members.
When Pelham made her comment, Mayor Jackie M. Shornak— one of the critics of the amount spent on the event — started to raise a point-of-order over Pelham’s comment. That prompted Pelham to smile and tell Shornak, “No, I will raise my own point-of-order over that.”
Later, Vice Mayor Jasmine E. Gore also made a comment that the sale would offset the cost of the dinner. But she also praised Poythress Development for being able “to step up instantly and do it.”
The sale was approved on a unanimous vote.