By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – City leaders are set to vote today on the purchase of a building that could house the growing Police Athletic League program.
The former Salvation Army recreational facility, which sits vacant behind the Link Centre, was offered to the city for $225,000 – $75,000 less than its appraised value.
The initial asking price was $232,000, but the city and the nonprofit negotiated to the lower price.
“It’s just draining our budget,” said Salvation Army Advisory Board Chairman Dan Franklin on Monday.
“We need the building to be sold to take that burden off of us,” he said.
Franklin and Mayor Jack Reed Jr., along with several others, had presented the idea of turning the facility into the new PAL headquarters to the City Council in July. They called it a “win-win” deal. The PAL program has outgrown its current 8,500-square-foot site on Robert E. Lee Drive and needs more space; the Salvation Army needs money to pay off the building and fund the expansion of its homeless shelter.
Some 220 youth are enrolled in PAL’s summer program. They play sports with police and firefighters while fostering meaningful relationships.
Franklin said the homeless shelter expansion will cost an estimated $600,000.
Most council members offered support for the project despite some concerns about paying for the building and the extensive renovations it requires.
Reed told the council Monday those funds would come 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.
The city is owed some of the money seized by federal agents in a two-year-old contraband cigarette sting that swept through several areas, including Tupelo.
“If we don’t buy it,” Reed said of the building, “they will sell it to somebody else.”