Booker T. gym repairs yet to begin
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:00 AM
The old Booker T. Washington gym remains in a state of disarray despite a commitment from Mississippi Action for Progress to make improvements as part of its lease agreement, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen were told last week.
Community in Action member Johnny Beckwith appeared before the board to ask about the status of the gym after nearly a year had passed since MAP signed a new lease agreement.
MAP signed the new agreement in March 2013, saying it would make $10,050 in repairs and upkeep a month on the gym.
MAP operates a Headstart center in the old school building.
Among other issues, numerous leaks from the gym's roof have led to a deterioration of the floor.
The new lease agreement was drawn up by the city in February 2012 but was not signed until a year later at Beckwith's urging.
Beckwith questioned aldermen last week about how much money MAP had spent on the gym.
After the board was unable to confirm if any work had been done, Beckwith asked that they consider terminating the lease.
Mayor James Young told Beckwith that the city hasn't looked into what MAP had done to the gym. On Friday, the mayor confirmed that no improvements had been made.
City Clerk James Johnson added that MAP has not turned any invoices in to his office for any work done.
Mayor Young told Beckwith that he would meet with MAP to discuss the gym and how to move forward.
"They need to have full authority to do what they need to do," he said, adding that the government sequester in 2013 may have caused MAP to lose funds. "Hopefully once we meet we'll get some clarity."
Young also noted the presence of other groups interested in improving the gym through either repair work or a new coat of paint.
During last week's meeting, Beckwith suggested turning over the gym to another group, such as the Boys & Girls Club.
"Having it open up under a supervisor, young people could come in and shoot ball," he said. "They could even use that gym to raise some money for the Boys & Girls Club through renting it out for tournaments. It could be turned into a good money maker if somebody just got behind it and pushed it."
Back in February 2013, Beckwith told aldermen that the gym would be a good place for the Boys & Girls Club if MAP didn't sign the new lease agreement.
Later that month, Mayor Young toured the gym and noted several areas in need of work, the most pressing being the leaking roof.
Other areas needing work were the bleachers, which were being held up with large tin cans, the floors which have several areas either cracked, warped or missing, and a few rooms that need to be blocked off, the Mayor noted.
Young said Friday he would not consider breaking the contract with MAP and turning the gym over to another party until the city and MAP came to a "jumping off point. Anyone concerned can see we have a need for this gym. Working with MAP will help us move forward," he said.