Wallace-Campbell project costly for county

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Community representatives and Columbiana City Councilmembers agree that a proposed Community Development Block Grant (CDBC) funded effort to renovate the Wallace-Campbell Community Center for use, as an afterschool tutoring site and other recreational activities would be too costly to the city.

Mayor Allan Lowe said the estimated cost to bring the old community center up to code for such use would be around $650,000. He said landscaping would have cost another $150,000.

Lowe previously stated the council was considering a CDBG application for a $275,000 project to bring the building up to code for after school tutoring to help children and local schools as well as for recreational activities such as basketball.

He said the $250,000 grant, if approved, would have come through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. And the city would have been required to put up a match of $25,000, which could be in the form of in-kind services.

Councilmember Tom Seale said the council, with all members present, met with community representatives in a work session following its regular July 19 meeting.

He said community members in attendance included former councilmember Leslie Whiting Sr., Brenda Martin and Clarence Harris.

Seale said the city would have had to come up with $550,000 to complete the project and that everyone was in agreement that the project was &uot;cost prohibitive.&uot;

Lowe said he planned to discuss city ownership of the Wallace-Campbell Community Center with Derek Bryant, president of the Wallace-Campbell Community Center Board of Directors, in light of the city’s inability to fund the entire renovation project at this time.

In March of 2004, Lowe, Seale and then councilmember Whiting met with members of the Wallace-Campbell Community Center Board of Directors to sign the deed to the center, which once served the black community as a school, over to the city of Columbiana.

According to Lowe, however, there was a provision that if the community center was not offered to the public for recreational use within a year, the center would revert to ownership of the Wallace Campbell Community Center Board of Directors.

Whiting said he understood that the city did not have any other source of funding for the project and that &uot;it wouldn’t be economical.&uot;

He said, however, &uot;I never would have thought it would have been that much to get it up to code being that it was an old school.&uot;

Whiting served as the chairman of the Construction Committee for the Wallace-Campbell Community Center Board of Directors.

In regular council action from July 19, the council voted unanimously to seek a Shelby County Emergency Management Agency grant for two additional weather sirens on Buie Road and Egg and Butter Road.

The sirens would cost a total of $24,000 with the city providing $6,000 in matching funds.

In other regular council action, the council voted 5-1 with Councilmember Danny Kelley voting &uot;no&uot; to approve payments to Gresham Smith & Partners in the amount of $1,509.20 for professional services on Columbiana mapping and in the amount of $4,639.28 for professional services on Walton Street and Water Works Street Improvement, as well as to R.E. Grills Construction Co. Inc. in the amount of $58,702.91 for wok on Walton Street, Water Works Street, Summer Classics Way and West College Street.

Kelley said he voted no because he was not present when the work with Gresham Smith & Partners or R.E. Grills were negotiated and that he had a different opinion.

Approved without the necessity of a vote were consent agenda items including:

*Minutes of the July 5 regular meeting.

*Payment of accounts as of a July 15 printout.

*Transfers from the General Fund to Library Operating Account in the amount of $1,485.97; from General Fund to Park and Recreation Board Account in the amount of $4,796.30; and from First National Bank General Fund to Regions General Fund in the amount of $111,921.97