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City Hall makeover will come from unused grant money


George Irby

George Irby



Nathan Gregory



Columbus' Office of Planning and Community Development has secured between $75,000-165,000 in leftover money from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History's Community Heritage Preservation Grant program for work on City Hall. 


Department assistant George Irby said he and Robyn Eastman of city project managing firm J5 Broaddus are meeting with MDAH representatives this week to receive approval for an architect to begin designing what will be renovated. 


"They had some money left over and we made a request for some of that money to be able to do some things at City Hall," Irby said. "We can do some exterior work with this." 


Eastman projected that there will also be enough funding to replace some of the building's windows along with cleaning of the building's exterior. He said J5 Broaddus will manage the project without charging its typical 6 percent fee. 


"I think we'll get some pro bono design work done by someone around here that will help out as well so we can truly take (the amount received) and throw it at the building," Eastman said.  


In December, MDAH announced it had awarded $2.98 million in grant funding to 26 preservation and restoration projects across the state. What was then Columbus' Office of Federal Programs applied for $500,000 in funding. That application was disqualified because of a mathematical error. A 20 percent match commitment from the applicant was required, but Columbus' application only had a commitment of $100,000, which is 17 percent of $500,000. 


At the time the application was filed, Travis Jones was the office of federal programs director. After another grant application was disqualified in February, Jones demoted himself to project coordinator and the city council approved to consolidate the offices of federal programs and city planning. City planner Christina Berry was named director of the consolidated department and her salary was bumped from $48,000 to $54,000. 


A timetable for when the renovation will begin has not been set.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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