By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Feb. 7, 2019) The Berlin Community Improvement Association will have a membership drive meeting on Friday, Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Stephen Decatur High School on 9913 Seahawk Road.
Among the items expected to be discussed is the fate of the Flower Street multipurpose building, which the organization controls.
“It going to be a membership drive, but of course the topic of discussion will be the multi-use building,” BCIA Chairman D.J. Lockwood said.
The organization was formed in the 1970s to take over the multipurpose building, which had been part of the Flower Street School that served the African-American community before desegregation.
Because of that, and because of its later use as a community center, the building is meaningful to many members of the community. However, it’s now said to be in disrepair and difficult to maintain, as the building was only designed to last 15-20 years. During a previous BCIA meeting, Lockwood said estimates to repair the building were about $300,000.
Town officials have said if the BCIA will donate the property to the municipality they would use the site for a new community center. Lockwood said the last meeting between both parties, which included Mayor Gee Williams, Town Attorney David Gaskill and several councilmembers, went well.
“We haven’t gotten into negotiations, but we’re all in agreement that it would [require] deed restrictions and part of those restrictions would be that we’re guaranteed a community center at the very minimum,” he said. “We didn’t go into the details of how long … so we have to all decide what a reasonable amount of time is, and then if that does not happen the property then goes back to the BCIA.
“That’s part of negotiations, but after that last meeting we all felt pretty comfortable that the town was going to do exactly what they said they’re going to do. Now, we just need to get into the details,” Lockwood added.
He said another meeting with Williams is scheduled on Feb. 19.
“Feb. 19 is when we’re going to decide yay or nay,” Lockwood said.
More than anything, Lockwood hopes the added public attention, as a decision on the multipurpose building approaches, will benefit the BCIA – and the larger community. That could start with the next membership meeting on Friday.
“We’re going to try to rejuvenate the BCIA so we can get into some programs that this organization was designed for,” he said. “We’ve gotten people’s interest sparked, so hopefully I can use that platform to build up that membership … our main goal is get that membership up with the BCIA and get people interested in participating in that organization again.”