Academy Street grant effort gets public support

Published 6:08 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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Troy residents, who attended the public hearing at Troy City Hall Tuesday morning, left energy-charged to do their part in making the renovation of the former Academy Street High School for use as a community center a reality.

The public hearing was held to give Troy residents the opportunity to ask questions and have input into the City of Troy’s application for a $1 million Cultural Arts Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to assist with the renovation of the historic high school.

Marcus Paramore, Troy City Council president, said the city has a good track record when it comes to receiving grant funding and encouraged those in attendance to support the city’s efforts.

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“The Academy Street School project is not a just a neighborhood project, it’s a community project,” said Stephanie Baker, city council member. “It‘s important that the grant application  has support citywide so we all need to go out and let others know the importance of the grant and ask for their support.”

The meeting was attended by a large number of Troy citizens who have a vested interest in the preservation of the Academy Street High School.

Melissa Sanders, City of Troy Community Development director, said  the City of Troy applied for a CDBG grant in 2019 for the renovation of the  Academy Street school, however, the grant was not approved. Most of the approved grants offered through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) last year were for water and sewer projects.

Sanders said the City of Troy is enhancing the 2020 grant with funding above the required match money.

She was asked to explain why a grant for the renovation of the historic schoolhouse was titled “Cultural Arts” when there is a cultural arts center (Johnson Center for the Arts) in Troy.

Sanders said the main focus of the  grant is for the renovation of the Academy Street High School for use a community center. However, the grant title, “Cultural Arts,” opens the grant up for other funding opportunities. The renovation project will be done in phases and additional funding will be helpful.

Sanders provided assurance that the architectural structure of the historic building will not be compromised during the planned renovation and that the current façade will remain.

In response to other questions, Sanders said the paving of the parking lot is not included in the grant application and the overall vision for the renovation of the historic school “will take time.”

Sanders said that community support for the Academy Street High School project will go a long way in getting the CDBG grant funded and encouraged those in attendance to get behind the project and support it.

Shelia Deveridge, retired Troy Nutrition Center director, said, the Academy Street School project will not just be used by the Oakland Heights neighborhood area but by the entire Troy community. “It’s for everyone so get out and help get the word out,” she said.

Those who would like to support the efforts to secure the CDBG for the renovation of the Academy Street School as a community center, may do so by signing the support sheets that are available at Troy City Hall and are in circulation throughout the city.

The deadline for the CDBG is July 11. However, the deadline for submissions to the grant is June 30.