Council denies funding for community center in split decision

Published 9:25 am Thursday, July 27, 2023

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On Tuesday, the LaGrange City Council denied a request from the LaGrange Housing Authority (LHA) to provide $1 million in ARPA funds for a proposed community center on Ragland St.

Mayor Willie Edmondson said the plan is to build a community center to go along with duplexes that are getting ready to be built by HLA along Ragland St.

LHA has all of the funding for the home construction but asked for an additional million to build a community center, Edmondson said.

Edmondson said the proposed community center wouldn’t just be for LHA residents, it would be for the surrounding community.

City Manager Meg Kelsey noted that most of the city’s ARPA funds have already been used. Only about $570,000 in ARPA funds remain, she said.

During the earlier work session, Kelsey cautioned that she was just informed by Utilities Director Patrick Bowie that repairs are needed at the sewer plant that are expected to cost more than $1 million.

“Patrick’s looking at me to figure out how we’re going to fund that. That’s probably a little over a million dollars in capital costs that we didn’t have in the budget,” Kelsey said.

Kelsey recommended the denial of a similar request from the developers of an 830-acre housing project on the former Newman property of Mooty Bridge Rd. for $1.5 million.

The city had initially agreed to provide $2 million in ARPA funds to help pay for sewer infrastructure for the project, but those funds were contingent on the county providing a similar contribution. When the county denied the request, the deal was rendered moot and the funds were used elsewhere.

During the council meeting, Councilman Leon Childs made a motion to provide the remaining ARPA funds for LHA’s request, which was seconded by Councilman Quay Boddie and put to a vote. The motion then failed 2-3 with Councilmen Tom Gore, Mark Mitchell and Jim Arrington voting against the measure. Councilman Nathan Gaskin was absent.

The funding request for the Newman property development was withdrawn Tuesday afternoon prior to the evening council meeting.