Pinehurst's Wagram Water Deal Not Likely
Pinehurst’s bid to buy water and wastewater treatment plants in Scotland County for $5.5 million appears to be over.
Village Manager Andy Wilkison said today that the Scotland County Board of Commissioners has still not approved the deal, and it doesn’t appear that will change. The owner of the plants — WP Properties Wagram — is now shopping them to private entities, he said.
“As far as the village of Pinehurst being the lead agency in trying to make something happen that would involve the Wagram plants and their use for the public in the Lumber River basin, I think that initiative has stalled out, probably permanently,” Wilkison said, adding, however, there is still the possibility that another public entity could take up the cause.
The two plants served a former Westpoint-Pepperell textile plant. The village announced its intention to purchase the plants last July. The deal included the plants, an intake line and 198 acres of land. It had hoped to close on the deal in November, but the deal became hampered by delays in Scotland County.
According to state law, the Scotland County Board of Commissioners has the right to approve or deny the sale of utilities to an entity that is from outside of the county.
The village and Scotland County reached an impasse over when feasibility and due diligence studies on the deal should be conducted. Village officials wanted approval before they committed a significant sum of money to conduct any studies.
Scotland County wanted the studies completed before voting on the proposal. The deal has been hanging in limbo for a few months.
Wilkison said Pinehurst has not withdrawn its proposal and the owner of the plants hasn’t rejected it, but completing the deal now seems unlikely.
“It would appear that the owner sees our bid as unworkable, at least of right now,” he said.
He said theoretically, Scotland County could change its mind, but said every indication leads him to believe that won’t happen. He said there hasn’t been any communication with Scotland County officials recently.
Village officials who supported the deal not only said the plants would help alleviate Pinehurst’s water issues, but would be a resource for the entire region.
The village had hoped to form a consortium of partners — neighboring counties and municipalities — to utilize the facilities.
Mayor Ginsey Fallon said today that if anything, Pinehurst’s bid to acquire the facilities has raised public consciousness and the visibility of the resource. She said the village would continue to study the possibility of additional wells to supplement its water supply. She stressed the importance of conservation and planning for the future.
She hoped that the plants are still pursued.
“The end of the desire was to secure water not only for Pinehurst, but for the entire region,” she said. “That was what we were so excited about. Maybe it’ll all happen anyway, but it won’t be purchased by Pinehurst.”
Just recently, the Moore County Board of Commissioners expressed its preliminary interest in the facilities and agreed to join other communities in seeking a grant to study the plants’ potential.
“If it still happens somehow, that’s a good thing,” Wilkison said. “That’s what we wanted. To that extent, we didn’t feel like Pinehurst had to be the lead on it. We were just the only ones at that time willing to take a step out there and acquire them.
“If the facilities slip away and are lost for the public’s possible benefit in the future, that would be disappointing.”
Contact John Krahnert III at (910) 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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