Decision on armory's future shelved

Renovating Summerville's armory building could cost nearly $2 million.

SUMMERVILLE — Asbestos and money are the biggest things in the way of the town doing anything with the old armory any time soon.

Town Council on Tuesday tabled any decision on making use of the building until mid-year, to see if town finances improve.

Council rejected using the building for the 'immediate need' of police evidence storage because of security problems, or moving the main fire station there because of the costs of asbestos removal or containment and building renovation.

It approved staff getting bids for a feasibility study on possible uses of the building.

Councilman Bob Jackson continued to push for the study to see if a business-arts-civic center would be used enough to make it cost effective.

'Am I pushing for this right now? No. Do I think it's viable? Yes. And I think the downtown needs it,' he said.

Relocating businesses are looking for facilities and quality of life, he said. 'When you have (the planned developments) Westvaco on one side and East Edisto on the other, if you don't do something to attract people to the downtown, you're going to be in trouble.'

But the bottom line was tight money in tough budget times.

'Just because we have (the armory) doesn't mean we have to start spending money,' Councilman Aaron Brown said.

For the town's immediate needs, council will consider making use of an office property under its parking garage on Richardson Avenue after the current tenant's lease runs out.

Renovating the half-century-old, 14,000-square-foot armory building on Hickory Street could cost nearly $2 million, plus asbestos containment costs, design and parking.

The armory is part of a newly restored recreational complex in the once-neglected Brownsville community. It sits at Doty

Park — the old ball park the town renovated as a recreation park — and adjacent to the popular Faith Sellers Senior Center, a Dorchester County nonprofit.

Reach Bo Petersen at 843-937-5744.