Stokes County School Board is still considering a proposal from the Walnut Cove Board of Commissioners requesting a portion of land from Walnut Cove Elementary.
Last month Walnut Cove Town Manager Bobby Miller, who recently resigned and is set to step down on Aug. 11, went before the school board and offered $5,000 on behalf of the commissioners for the property which would be used to drill a new well for the town’s municipal water system.
Miller told the school board, “For over a year, myself and the public works staff have searched the area for a suitable place to put another well. The campus of Walnut Cove Elementary has emerged as our top potential site.”
Walnut Cove currently operates seven wells that supply water to more than 1,400 citizens along with three schools, two long term care facilities and businesses in the area.
The state mandates the town must own or control the land within 100 feet of the well. Miller said the town would require a parcel 225’ x 225’ with an improved road to access the service site. According to the town manager, the goal of the town is to be water independent and the purchase of the land would enable the town to spend its funds to improve their existing well infrastructure rather than purchase water.
At a recent school board meeting, Vice Chairperson Pat Messick questioned how the town determined the asking price of $5,000.
“Did the employees of Walnut Cove come up with the amount they offered us? How did they come up with this random amount because it looks low,” she said.
David Burge, Stokes Executive Director of Operations, explained tax values were examined and the estimate was likely based off similar tracts of land.
“The town manager made that proposal but has not shared with me what he used to come up with that amount,” said Superintendent Dr. Brad Rice. “Part of our discussion has been the land value is not the value of the property; it’s the water under that property that has the value and that’s what they will continue to make profits on in years to come.”
School Board Attorney Fredrick Johnson weighed in, adding there’s a specific statute that allows governmental agencies, such as the board of education and a city to enter into contractual agreements for property sales.
“We don’t necessarily have to sell the property to the town in order for them to get access to the water. There are some other avenues we could explore about how to do that,” he said.
“One thing I want to make certain, based upon what I have seen thus far,” Johnson said. “I would not want the board to make an absolute conveyance of this property to the town. I would want some type of reversion in the deed that if the property were no longer used for the purpose for which it’s desired now, that is water, the title would automatically revert to the board of education.”
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.