Sturgeon City receives go-ahead for expansion project

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)–Jacksonville’s Sturgeon City expansion now has the go ahead to start construction.

20 years ago, the site was a waste water treatment plant for the city of Jacksonville.

“Unfortunately this wastewater treatment plant never functioned properly for the City of Jacksonville so Wilson Bay and the New River were polluted,” Paula Farnell, Sturgeon City’s director, said.

So the city shut it down and turned the site into an education center for environmental stewardship.

For nearly a year, the center’s been seeking approval for an expansion which it finally received on Tuesday.

“It’s going to provide us with so much programming space as well as being available for other rentals and other community events and programs,” Farnell said. “It’s really needed.”

The expansion also offers new opportunities for growing tourism and bringing folks to the downtown Jacksonville area.

“Currently, we have to turn people away so to speak for events, programs and field trips because of our lack of space and because we’re weather dependent,” Farnell said. “Now, we will have more indoor capacity so we’ll be able to run more things without turning people away as well as multiple things at the same time.”

The 3.6 million dollar project now fits within 7,000 square feet. Receiving the final approval required some back and forth between the city council and the center. Initial plans were adding up to be over budget. The city presented the center with several options to bring down the cost.

“It’s just going to be simplified and then what they did is simplify the interior,” Farnell said. “It will be basically one large room with three separate walls than we can split if needed.” There will also be a long lobby running the length of the rooms.

The 15-year lease will be reviewed annually and Sturgeon City will pay an annual rental fee of $1.

There’s no timeline in place right now but Farnell says they hope to make an announcement regarding a groundbreaking soon.

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