You may have noticed the orange fencing that has been placed around the old Loris High School in recent weeks.
The fence has been erected to try to keep trespassers off the property as the City of Loris and the owner of the site continue to debate over who should be responsible for the cost of removing the dilapidated and dangerous structure.
During Monday’s Loris City Council meeting -- postponed from Aug. 3 because of Hurricane Isaias -- Mayor Todd Harrelson said the city’s attorney and the attorney of property owner Nathan Hardwick agreed to have the fencing put in place.
“The public was just happy to see something happening with the property,” Harrelson said.
The building has been in bad shape for years but was worsened after the flooding from Hurricane Florence in 2018, according to Harrelson.
He said with the fence in place, it makes it easier for police to enforce the no trespassing rules on the property.
Interim City Administrator Brandon Harrelson said an asbestos study was conducted recently on the building and the results were better than anticipated.
He said the asbestos found in the auditorium portion of the building was “very little.” In the rest of the building the only asbestos found was in the collapsed roof.
He said he received price estimates on removing the collapsed roof and that will cost $25,000 - $35,000.
Brandon Harrelson also said the city is in the process of getting cost estimates on demolishing and removing the building.
It was emphasized during Monday’s meeting that just because the city is gathering prices for the removal of the school does not mean the city is going to pay for the job to be done.
Back in February, the city announced a judge will decide who should be responsible for that cost.
A court is expected to determine whether the building itself is owned by the city or by Nathan Hardwick, also known as Buddy, who lives in Georgia.
Loris City Councilman Carroll Padgett, an attorney, said the ownership confusion goes back decades.
“There was an arrangement between the city and owner many many years ago. There were certain requirements contained in that. And a dispute has arisen over who is responsible for cleaning up the property,” Padgett answered. “Once we determine who the owner is, then we can determine what to do thereafter.”
Mayor Harrelson said he does not believe the city has ownership of the site. He said the contract the city had with Hardwick expired many years ago.
He said if it is ruled Hardwick is the legal owner, the city will enforce its ordinances to have the property cleaned.
When asked if that means the old school will be torn down, Harrelson said: “I do not know about that. That will be up to him.”