Highland Center Work in Limbo While CDBG Issues Linger

Renovations at Highland Community Center remain in limbo while the Town of Mount Gilead sorts out the situation surrounding Community Development Block Grant funding awarded last fall.

In addition to repairs to a number of homes in the area, the CDBG Catalyst Grant was supposed to fund a roof for the Highland Center gym and demolition of two unused buildings there.

At a called meeting Monday night, Town Manager Katrina Tatum told Commissioners and a large audience that the project has been complicated by a number of setbacks, including the resignation of the grant administrator and the discovery of environmental contaminants on the Highland property. The Town is seeking a second time extension on the grant work, but Mayor Patty Almond refused to sign off on it last week.

At a called meeting Monday that was not attended by the Mayor, Commissioners gave Mayor Pro-Tem Tim McAuley permission to authorize the request.

Meanwhile, the board of directors of the Highland Community Center wonder whether any of the work will be done with the CDBG funds. In light of the uncertainty, board member Asia Dumas spoke about the need for cooperation as the center moves forward in its mission.

“I’ve been with Highland School ever since it was turned over to the Highland Community Center,” Dumas said. “I’ve been there, I’ve struggled, I’ve seen some ups and I’ve seen some downs.”

“But, you know, anything that’s bad can be fixed, if you work together, and we’re going to have to work together.”

Dumas also alluded to the sentiment among some that the two unused buildings should be preserved.

“We need to take what’s working and make it work, and take what’s contaminated and get rid of it,” he continued. “It’s better to use what you’ve got than try to make something out of something you can’t. Somebody said they can build a building cheaper than they could renovate those buildings.”

“Maybe so, and that’s good, but who wants to spend money that you don’t have to spend. If we can take the gym and (one) building and make something out of those buildings, and tear those other buildings down, we’d be better off, I believe.”

WMTG will continue to follow the story of the Mount Gilead Community Development Block Grant funding and its impact on the Highland Center and other work in town. Tomorrow, we’ll feature some of the comments of Johnny Greene, who also spoke at Monday night’s meeting of Town Commissioners.

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