By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The city soon will take possession of the former Salvation Army recreational building.
City Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved purchasing the 17,000-square-foot facility behind the Link Centre for $225,000. It eventually will house the Tupelo Police Athletic League program, which has outgrown its current space on Robert E. Lee Drive.
Some 220 youth are enrolled in PAL’s summer program. They play sports with police and firefighters while fostering meaningful relationships.
“This program teaches our youth respect, teamwork, discipline and to believe – not only in themselves, but in their community,” said Kelly Manley, whose two children have participated in PAL.
Manley and others spoke before the council in support of the purchase during a packed meeting at City Hall. Several dozen residents, including many children, attended the meeting and applauded after the vote.
“PAL has helped me follow my dreams,” said Deventa Fields, an Itawamba Community College student who praised the program for giving him confidence in his athleticism and academics.
The Salvation Army used to operate an after-school program in the vacant facility, but the recession ended that program and left the building vacant. It has posed a financial burden to the nonprofit ever since.
Funds from the building’s sale will go toward Salvation Army’s expansion of its homeless shelter.
“It’s a win-win,” said Maj. Sue Dorman of The Salvation Army.
The city will purchase the building and renovate it with funds from four sources: $215,000 from the city’s neighborhood revitalization account; $235,000 from the Parks and Recreation Department’s capital project account; $195,000 from the Public Works Department capital projects account; and $150,000 from the tobacco settlement.