As the May General Election approached the voters will clearly hear a diverse debate regarding a taxpayer approved multi-million dollar bond package that is being proposed for the construction of a new north side community park.
The voters will hear a lot about how parks and recreation are the main reasons why families move to Forney, and they will hear incumbent candidate’s Shaun Myers and Mary Penn promote the construction of a new recreation center.
However any voter who may be weary of the financial decisions that have already been made by the Forney city council, may find keen interest in the below attached “Visual Inspection and Structural Evaluation” for the City of Forney owned Booker T. Washington school building.
Located on the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets, the old Booker T. Washington School was purchased by the City Council in September 2012 while the council was under the leadership of former mayor Darren Rozell and council member’s Robbie Powers and Mary Penn.
The City of Forney paid $171,075.54 for the property, and attached below are the property’s’ sale documents which show that the city manager waived a survey of the ageing building.
In November 2014 when the council moved forward with plans to revitalize the downtown area, a full evaluation of the property was done which supplied the council with an in-depth report showing that the structure is in extremely bad shape and that there is asbestos within portions of the building.
Then again in October 2018, the city council hired the engineering firm of Charles Goyers & Associates to provide them an updated evaluation of the Booker T. Washington School building, along with a price estimate of how much it would cost to bring the building up to legal codification.
On November 17, 2018 the Forney Council, less Mayor Rick Wilson conducted a full day of detailed deliberations about many of the issues facing the city.
Only attending this workshop long enough to promote the restoration of the Booker T. Washington building, Council Member Robbie Powers stated “I would like to see it transformed into a community center that could be used for mixed use. I know that parking may be an issue, and I know that we might have to have a bond package to get it done.”
Powers said “But I think that if we get out into the community and communicate, and relay and tell the community what we’re intending to do. And get their input on it. I think the community will be all for it. We’re always getting comments about how we need a rec center; we need something for our youth.”
Council Member’s Shaun Myers, Mary Penn and Robbie Powers were all in favor of possibly adding the restoration of the Booker T. Washington structure to any upcoming bond election in hope of making the old building into a neighborhood recreation center.
Consistently using the Freedom of Information Act to request the email communications of Council Member Shaun Myers, the below attached report on the “Visual Inspection and Structural Evaluation of the Booker T. Washington” building was attached to email correspondence between Myers and City Manager Tony Carson.
As voters will notice the report provides only a “guestimate of $150,000 to $200,000 in probable cost to repair the structure and bring it up to code.”
The reports states “Given the additional damage and substantial water infiltration the structure has suffered over the last four years we estimate these repairs have now grown to be in the range of $850,000 to $900,000 just for the structural repairs. This includes the potential damage to the studs and the damage in the rear of the gymnasium. In addition to the structural repairs’ secondary repairs like the flooring on the stage, finishes etc. will probably add an additional $50,000 to $100,000 in repairs.”
It also reports that “these repairs will only bring the facility up to code as it relates to the structure. The facility itself including the crawl space and the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing requirements to say nothing of Architectural needs still need to be address. The “guestimate” above of between $850,000 and $1,000,000 do not consider these additional costs.”
Heads up Forney voters: review the below report and then point blank ask the incumbent candidate’s seeking re-election if it is their intent to include the Booker T. Washington building restoration project within the bond finance package they're promoting.
Written by: Denise Bell