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By Connie Leinbach
The Ocracoke Preservation Society has received a $15,000 grant from The Outer Banks Community Foundation to stabilize the Odd Fellow Lodge section of the Island Inn.
That original building is all that remains after the nonprofit demolished the two wings recently as part of the OPS’s plan to save the property for community purposes.
Stabilization of the building includes removing the remaining demolition debris, closing gaps and some internal work, said Ken DeBarth, OPS president.
The grant will be paid from the Diane and Nelson Henderson Endowment Fund, the Shirley and David Doran Memorial Fund and the Community Fund.
The vision for the iconic property, which the OPS purchased in May, includes retaining and renovating the original two-story, wood-frame structure (the former Odd Fellow’s Lodge), demolishing the two deteriorating wings (which has been done) and adding public restrooms, all while retaining some green space.
DeBarth said the OPS has to find funding for each phase of the multiyear project.
“Each step of the way we will be looking for grant money for historic renovation,” he said.
In addition to stabilizing the original structure, the OPS on Oct. 11 asked the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board at a special meeting to fund the building of public restrooms in a stand-alone building at the site. That cost is an estimated $150,000, which includes a new septic system.
The Occupancy Tax Board is seeking projects on the island restricted to capital improvements that can be funded from its reserve of about $300,000.
Not included in the OPS request to fund six-stall unisex restroom construction is the annual cost of maintenance and management.
Discussion at the Oct. 11 meeting in the Community Center touched on who would maintain the restrooms, but that’s still in the talking phase. Hyde County Manager Kris Noble, who attended, said she would look into what it would take for the county to handle maintenance on a contractual basis. Perhaps a resident could launch a private business to handle the future maintenance of these public restrooms as well as other island management needs.
In the meantime, the OPS Island Inn Committee, consisting of DeBarth, Otis Hurd, retired accountant and treasurer of OPS as treasurer; Andrea Powers, administrator of OPS as secretary; Bill Cole, community volunteer and on OPS board of directors; Ed Norvell, attorney; Tom Pahl, local contractor and county commissioner; and Bill Rich, Hyde County businessman and recently retired Hyde County manager, are overseeing the renovation project.
“We thank the Outer Banks Community Foundation, the board of directors and executive director for awarding this grant in support of our project,” Powers said.
Anyone interested in donating to this project may send checks to the OPS, P.O. Box 1240, Ocracoke, NC 27960, with “Island Inn” in the memo line.
The OPS, formed in 1983 to preserve the unique island culture and history for the enjoyment and education of the community and its visitors, will present an update on this and other projects at its fall membership meeting from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 6 in the Community Center.