Folkmoot moves forward with building purchase

By Vicki Hyatt | Jan 08, 2014
Photo by: Mountaineer file photo Karen Babcock, Folkmoot's executive director, addresses a group of supporters at a 2013 event.

Folkmoot USA is one step closer to owning the building it has leased for more than a decade.

At the Haywood County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday, county leaders approved the idea of having the nonprofit organization buy a portion of the former Hazelwood Elementary School for $1.

A resolution has to first be prepared that sets forward the parameters of the conveyance, including a provision that stipulates the building would revert to the county in the event it ceases to be used for a public purpose. The document will be prepared and ready to be voted on at the next board meeting on Jan. 21.

Pat Smathers, the Haywood County Board of Education attorney, reported the school board declared the property surplus for its needs, and reasoned that with the maintenance work needed, disposing of the property made the most economic sense.

“It would cost $400,000 to $500,000 to tear it down,” Smathers said, “and $225,000 to put a new roof on it.”

Before school-owned real estate can be disposed of, the county has the first right of refusal on it. Commissioners had no interest in using the building for other purposes, and Commissioner Michael Sorrells said conveying it to Folkmoot would keep the historic building intact and allows continued use by the community.

Karen Babcock, Folkmoot’s executive director, said the organization is preparing for a fund-raising campaign, and noted grants or donations would be hard to get if Folkmoot didn’t own the building. She also cited a 2013 survey showing Folkmoot, the 30-year-running international folk festival, has a $9.2 million impact on the region.

As the sale moves forward, Smathers asked that the school board remain involved since the piece being purchased by Folkmoot adjoins other school property that is being used.