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Week of Jan. 17: Ice storm! Plus, Castle Street proposal fades away, duking it out over masks, again

Port City Politics wide

On this abbreviated episode — we both had to prepare for the coming ice storm — we get the latest on the long-running, unsuccessful attempt to redevelop the former WAVE transit depot on Castle Street, plus the county's health board revisited masks, again, with confusing results.

Port City Politics is a podcast collaboration between WECT and WHQR. Every two weeks, WECT’s investigative reporter Michael Praats and WHQR’s News Director Ben Schachtman will break down the latest happenings in local politics.

As the ice storm bears down on the Wilmington area, we revist the week's events. First up, the long-running efforts to revitalize the former WAVE facility at 11th and Castle streets runs out of gas. Since 2007, the city has hoped to redevelop the property — which it owns — into a mixed-use development of some sort. In 2019, a new proposal involving Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit developer, and the Coastal Land Trust evolved — but never really got on the same page as city staff. Now, the city has to decide whether to try again or simply sell the land.

And, of course, there was this week's mask mandate vote from the New Hanover County Board of Health and Human Services. After a heated debated the board reached a deadlock — a 5-5 split vote on a motion not to reinstitute a mask mandate. So, the motion to not require masks failed ... meaning that masks won't be required.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature.