DOBSON — Surry Community College has signed on the dotted line for the purchase of a 56-acre parcel of land adjacent to the college, property President Dr. David Shockley calls “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Addressing the commissioners Monday night, he said that while he knows the economic climate makes asking for money difficult, the property is too good to pass up.
“Part of me hates having to bring this forward to this board with the current financial situation, but this is the absolutely perfect property and we may not have another opportunity like this,” he said, noting that he wasn’t requesting a specific dollar amount, rather what the board felt they could offer.
During their regular meeting Monday night, commissioners voted to support the purchase with $200,000 spread over the next five years. The structure of the payments will be determined by the board’s finance committee.
The land is located between Old Rockford Road and NC 601, and includes about 1,000 feet of road frontage on the highway that Shockley sees as a future entrance to the college.
“I can just envision what it will look like,” he said, obviously excited as he gazed over the rolling countryside Tuesday morning. “I just couldn’t believe this property was available when I saw it.”
Shockley said he hated to ask for help with the purchase in these difficult economic times.
The $200,000 in county funding for the $500,000 purchase is in addition to a $95,200 down payment by the Surry Community College Foundation. The college is purchasing the property from Charlie Jarrell.
“They’re the ones who put up the money for the down payment on the property,” Shockley said.
Shockley said Tuesday morning that without the support of the board the purchase wouldn’t have been possible.
“Their support means that this purchase will go forward,” he said. “Without the support of the commissioners it would prove to be extremely difficult, or even impossible, for the foundation to make this possible.
“If the commissioners hadn’t supported this, we’d have tried our best to push forward and take a leap of faith,” Shockley added.
While he described the property as a “the opportunity of a lifetime,” Shockley said additional property is needed because the school leases property used for a vineyard from the nearby Surry Central High School, and usable land for campus expansion is pretty much gone.
“The school system was nice enough to let us lease the property, but they’re looking at their future as well,” Shockley said, noting that the school is also running out of space to expand. “The lease runs out in 2012, so it was time to make a move.”
Shockley said a small portion of the land — six or seven acres — will be used for a new vineyard while the rest will be determined in the future.
“The reality is that I’ll probably be long gone while that land is still being used,” he said. “College leadership in the future will have the opportunity to work with businesses and industries to determine what needs to be there.”
“The vineyard isn’t the sole purpose for the purchase of the property. This could give the college an entrance from 601 to the existing campus of 120 acres,” he said. “We’re out of property to expand, build or add needed parking for students.
“It’s adjacent, it’s very, very desirable land and will allow the college to expand and add new programs in the future,” Shockley added.
Commissioner Paul Johnson said the land is “probably some of the best land in the township of Dobson.”
“It will give you a connection to 601 and enable you to ramp up your vocational classes, and hopefully the horticulture and agriculture programs will grow along with this.”
Commissioner Eddie Harris, who said the purchase “portends to be a historic milestone for Surry Community College,” made the motion to participate in the purchase.
The motion passed unanimously, with Commissioner Garry Scearce absent.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.