Let’s raise the roof

Published 11:03 pm Monday, May 19, 2014

If ideas were gold, there would be more than enough money to restore the Rock Building to its original grandeur.
All of the ideas tossed around at the grassroots meeting at the “Save the Rock” meeting at the Troy Recreation Center Monday night were good ones, said David Helms, who with his wife, Sherry, is spearheading the efforts to restore the historic Rock Building, which is the property of the Pike County Commission.
Helms said the purpose of the meeting was to find a use for the Rock Building that would justify its restoration. Among the suggested uses were a farmers’ market, a multi-use facility, a performing arts theater, shops, artists’ studios and an outdoor performance venue.
Funding for the restoration of the building was a topic of much discussion. An earmarked lodging tax that would assist the Pike County Commission’s efforts to restore and maintain the Rock Building was thought to be the most viable financial avenue.
However, Homer Wright, Commission chairman, said the lodging tax would require a countywide referendum.
“Even if we were successful in getting it through the Legislature and to the voters, it would be 2016 before we could get the lodging tax on a ballot,” he said. “A special election would be a quicker way to decide the issue but that would cost us $40,000 or $50,000. And, that’s money we don’t have.”
Sherry Helms said that during the ongoing efforts to secure a lodging tax, which might or might not be successful, the existing and badly leaking roof would cave in.
“What we need first is a new roof to secure the building,” she said.
Commissioner Charlie Harris agreed.
“Then, let’s raise the roof,” he said. “I believe that the people of Pike County care enough about this building to support a fundraising effort to ‘raise the roof.’”
Wright said a new roof would secure the building until a decision was made as to a purpose for the building.
“While we are working toward ways to fund the restoration, the building would be protected,” he said.
Kathy Sauer, Pike County Chamber of Commerce president, said that, after listening to the many and different connections of those in attendance to the Rock Building, she believes the efforts to restore the building will be successful.
“I think the people of Pike County want to see this building preserved,” she said. “There’s just to much history there and too many family connections. I believe that we can ‘raise the roof.’”
David Helms said the ideal situation for the restoration of the Rock Building would be for the City of Troy and Troy University to come on board with the Pike County Commission.
“This could be a facility that would be available to the county, the city and the university,” he said. “We need to sit down and talk with the city and university to see if there is any interest in partnering with the county on this.”
Helms is organizing committees to explore state and federal grant funding options for the project and to work with the Alabama Historical Commission to learn what must be done to preserve the architectural integrity of the building.
“We need committees to look into every avenue for possible funding,” Helms said. “We also need volunteers who can write grants and research other avenues of funding, architects who will work with us on a design for the building and certainly those who will explore uses for the building that will be most beneficial to the people of Pike County.”
Those who would like to join the grassroots efforts to restore the Rock Building are encouraged to contact Helms through the Pike County Chamber of Commerce at 334-566-2294.

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