The impending closure and sale of the Southern Pines Elementary School property represents a watershed moment for our town and wider community.

Although I’m a member of the Southern Pines Planning Board, the following opinions are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Planning Board.

Do we appreciate this campus for what it was — it’s been a center of learning for over 100 years — or should we just look at it plainly as what it is?

The view from Carthage appears to be the latter, a viewpoint that comes naturally from the fact that it is excess property and a potential asset to be sold for much needed revenue. As a next-door neighbor of the school and someone with an appreciation for the immense value of historic preservation, it is a unique collection of architecturally notable buildings centrally located near downtown. We shouldn’t preserve the SPES property out of some nostalgic sentiment, but for what it can be.

Moore County is a special place largely because it has preserved its unique character. The distinction of this stewardship has been when visionaries, municipalities and organizations have leveraged Moore County’s historic assets toward future development through preservation and renewal.

We embrace and brand ourselves as America’s Home of Golf, but this winning formula has been implemented elsewhere too: Walthour-Moss Foundation, Weymouth Center, Pinehurst Fair Barn and the various historic business districts in Aberdeen, Southern Pines and Pinehurst. Pinehurst Resort certainly recognizes this valuable model, because it transformed a steam plant into a brewery.

Our school board must recognize the true value of both SPES and Southern Pines Primary lies with historic preservation.

Cooper Carter, Southern Pines

Publisher’s Note: This is a letter to the editor, submitted by a reader, and reflects the opinion of the author. The Pilot welcomes letters from readers on its Opinion page, which serves as a public forum. The Pilot is not in the business of suppressing public opinion. We are a forum for community debate, and publish almost every letter we receive. For information on how to make a submission, visit this page: https://www.thepilot.com/site/forms/online_services/letter/

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