McComb selectmen prepared to take possession of the Alpha Center Tuesday in discussion during their work session.
Board member Shawn Williams reported to the board that the city school board had voted to convey the property to the city, and that county supervisors had agreed to contribute $54,000 toward repairs and renovations.
The supervisors’ board attorney, Wayne Dowdy, is drawing up an interlocal agreement to govern the contribution and spending of the money, he said, and added that there is a possibility of some playground equipment being donated.
Once the city accepts the deed, “we can get set up with (architect Steve) Cox to walk through the building and make recommendations,” Williams said.
Selectman Ted Tullos asked what expense the takeover would mean to the city.
“What will it cost us to open the doors and turn on the lights and use the utilities?” Tullos asked. “What is it going to take?”
Mayor Quordiniah Lockley noted that the county had been contributing $900 per month to cover utilities and insurance, and that was likely more than enough to continue covering those costs.
However, “you have to understand, under the interlocal agreement, the county is going to give us $54,000 up front, which is their $900 a month for five years,” he said. By using that money to rehab the building, “all those expenses will fall to us.”
“We’ve already done this (kind of renewal project) at the MLK Center,” Williams said. “We’re just asking for the same thing at the Alpha Center.”
Selectman Donovan Hill said rehabilitating the building and making it more attractive for public use would likely hedge some of the city’s costs in maintaining the building.
“It’s a beautiful building. It just needs some love,” Hill said. “Rental fees will help us keep it up.”
Board member Devante Johnson asked if there might be any grounds on which Paul Singleton — who described himself to the board last year as the last remeaining board member of the South McComb Civic and Improvement Association, which long oversaw oeration of teh center — might file suit against the city.
Board attorney Angela Cockerham was absent, but Lockley said the city should not be inlegal danger since the school board triggered the reversion clause in its agreement with the organzation.
Selectman Ronnie Brock said any legal problems would fall to the school board and its attorney, Ashley Atkinson.
In another property matter, Recreation Director Joyce Smith asked the board to consider approving the installation of lighting around the outside of the Martin Luther King Center.
She said it’s dark around the building at night, especially the area in the back of the bulding where trash is thrown out. She presented a quote of about $1,250 to install and power the new lighting, and noted that rentals of the building are up since the board lowered rates.