Imagine the possibilities

Imagine the possibilities
Imagine the possibilities

IT TAKES A VISION – The rough exterior and even more decrepit interior may seem hopeless, but according to Martin Mayor Randy Brundige, all it takes a vision to see the potential impact behind reviving the old Martin Middle School building that sits emp

The building has seen better days. The water-stained ceilings and walls leave much to be desired. The crumbling roof would leave anyone hesitant to grace the former Martin Middle School halls.

To a group of community members, Martin Mayor Randy Brundige and the city’s board of aldermen, there is a vision. With some elbow grease and a handful of funding, the historic building has the potential to become a gathering place for the young, young at heart and everyone in between..

Brundige told the board of aldermen during an informal meeting Tuesday evening that he wanted to look and see if the group had a vision for the old school building.

The mayor entertained the idea of holding ballroom dance lessons, while other aldermen suggested utilizing the building for the youth of the community.

“I envision this as a part of the Martin Parks and Recreation department,” Alderman David Belote shared.

Brundige explained that the Martin Housing Authority had considered the potential behind renovating the school house to be used for community activities as they are outgrowing the space for the MHC after-school program.

The notion seemed an almost insurmountable task with a long list of repairs that tallied several thousands of dollars.

“I did a walk-through of this building with Brian (Harris) and the building is in remarkable shape for its age. It does need a roof and it has some repair issues,” Alderman Randy Edwards reported.

Harris is the director of the Martin Housing Authority. Brundige said with the blessing of the board, he would like to work out a special partnership with Martin Housing Authority for investing 50 percent to help turn the building into a community center.

Through the MHC, Brundige reported there was a good chance to get grants to help revive the building.

Community member Joyce Washington showed her appreciation of the mayor attempting to breathe new life into the building.

“It would be an investment in our future for our children … In addition to all of the wonderful work being done on Main Street, we should consider investing into the rest of the community,” Washington expressed.

“I have had an opportunity to see the physical and historical assets of this building. The key to a great community is building on your strengths,” Lisa Robinson of Martin shared.

Belote suggested bringing in advice from Selmer and Dyersburg community members to see how those cities revived decrepit buildings and converted them into something for the community.

The building is on the market for $92,500. The estimate for the roof is $80,000. 

Real estate broker Marvin Alexander said he estimated the square footage of the building to be approximately 38,000 square feet with seven acres of land included in the deed.

“Now is the time to do something with the building before somebody else buys it and demolishes it,” Alexander stressed.

Board members gave their blessing for the mayor to talk with Harris about the building, the vision and what the next steps are to take.

In other news, Roger Vancleave was on hand to update board members on the federal I-69 project.

On the agenda for Monday’s formal board of mayor and aldermen meeting, board members will be asked to consider a resolution granting support for the designation of SR-22 from east of Martin to Union City and the Tyson Bypass in Union City as an interstate highway link to I-69.

Vancleave announced that he had confirmed with Con. Stephen Fincher that the newly-elected congressman was in full support of Martin having a direct link to I-69 when the project comes to fruition.

Fincher sits on the Department of Transportation Committee and he would have a hand in the funding and direction of highway projects under that committee designation.

“They promised us a direct link to I-69 and we don’t have it yet. This is the first item to be addressed. Then, the next item would be to get a spur after we have the direct link,” Vancleave announced.

Vancleave said the proposed interchange for I-69 at Section Line Road in Union City would do the City of Martin no good. But an interchange near Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. would be beneficial to the city as well as save $30-35-million in federal funds.

Board members agreed to consider the resolution during their planned meeting for Monday.

The aldermen will also consider allowing the city to apply for an infrastructure grant in the amount of $300,000 for a proposed strip mall off of Skyhawk Parkway. 

The grant would only be used for sewer, water and road access.

Brundige said there would be no recouping of funds during the possible first phase of the project, but the city could recoup funds in the second phase of the proposed project through its property taxes.

The plans for the shopping center are expected to be presented during a planning committee meeting set for 5:15 on Monday, Jan. 24.

Board members will meet for a formal session on Monday at 5:15 in the city hall courtroom.

wcp 1/6/11

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