The McComb city board may use the $1.5 million in state bond money to make upgrades and repairs to the Alpha Center.
Selectman Shawn Williams sparked the discussion in the April 12 board meeting, probing the board to see if they would want to use the bond money awarded by the state Legislature in 2016 for the Alpha Center, located in Baertown.
Selectman Ronnie Brock did not disagree with the idea, but was afraid that the Alpha Center did not fall in the scope of the bill. Board attorney Angela Cockerham said she would have to look into it.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Cockerham said she sent an email to the board with her findings, saying the work would be a proper use for the money. Brock noticed some “stipulations” that Cockerham outlined, namely that the money be used for recreational facilities.
“I’m in agreement for using the bond money, but based on what I’m seeing here, there’s some changes that are going to have to be made in reference to the building itself,” Brock said. “The Alpha Center is not a recreation anything, based on what is said here.”
Selectman Devante Johnson read aloud the list of requirements, noting that a recreational center is a building that is open to the public, holds sports or meetings and has activities for the public.
Williams said the center was used by the library to hold meetings, and it was open to the public, so it fits those requirements, and Cockerham agreed.
“I thought that under the basis of the initiative, you could meet the qualifications for the money to be spent there,” Cockerham said.
Mayor Quordiniah Lockley said the city plans to clean up the back of the building and replace old equipment to make a play area for children, which would further solidify the building as a recreation center or related facility. Brock said all of this information on how it meets the requirements should be in the floor plan.
“Let’s just make sure we spread it across drawings or whatever we are buying,” Brock said. “Let’s just make sure the language matches the building moving forward.”
Lockley said, even without it hitting every mark of requirements, he thinks it will be a legal use of the bond money.
“I think what she (Cockerham) supplied us was more than adequate to use the money,” he said, adding that the Alpha Center hits the mark of a recreation-related facility.
Cockerham said she was under the impression that the Alpha Center was already used for recreations, but she assured the board that there is enough space to make it more geared toward recreations, such as adding a sporting area.
The cost of the repairs has also been a topic of discussion. At the last board meeting, Williams and Smith said the center needs a heating and air conditioning system, electrical and ceiling repairs, painting and other small repairs for it to be usable again.
Recreation Department Director Joyce Smith said she had already talked to some contractors about the heating and air system, and the lowest quote as of Tuesday was about $43,000.
She spoke with another contractor last Wednesday and is waiting on his estimates. She mentioned in the last board meeting that the contractor could do all of the needed work.
Johnson said that there is a lot of “junk” in the building, such as pianos, tables and other equipment that was left there over the years.
He asked Cockerham if the city could hold a yard sale on the discarded items, and she said they would have to make sure if someone wants their things back, they can get it before the city sells the items.
Lockley said the city could put a notice on the building about abandoned equipment, and after 30 days, they will legally be able to sell it.