Pigeon Center is facing a crisis

Oct 02, 2013

Keeping the doors open at the Pigeon Community Multi-Cultural Development Center will take almost a miraculous intervention.

In addition to the $3,000 or so in monthly costs to keep the center going, there’s  about a $14,000 deficit that’s needed to make a vital roof repair project possible.

The Haywood County Commissioners have budgeted $35,000 for the project since the building is county-owned and is in year 13 or a 20-year lease to the center. However, initial bids far exceed that amount.

Lin Forney, the center’s director, estimated it will require $27,000 (which includes the roof repair) to keep the center going until February when a $20,000 grant will be available from the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation. That includes paying for necessities such as insurance, pest control, which is required because a food pantry is maintained, phone and internet service and program costs.

The building repair issue is the most pressing concern, Forney said. One contractor who was preparing a bid for the work advised board members it would be a dangerous because of the many places in the flat roof where workers could fall through.

“Our worst fear is the building will collapse,” she said. “I’m overwhelmed with the price of all that. It’s beyond just patching.”

Even though the building’s condition is abysmal, grants for the repair have been illusive.

Not only are grants becoming more scarce, but those that are available want to address programming, not building needs.

The other uncertainty is whether the organization’s lease will continue beyond the seven years left on the existing lease.

The center has reached out to the community and to the churches that have already helped them.

The building on Pigeon Street has historical significance as it was the elementary school that served all black students in Haywood County during the years when public education was segregated.  An application is pending to place the building on the National Register of Historic Places, something Forney hopes will possibly open another avenue for repair funds.

“We’re overwhelmed with it all,” Forney said.  We’re doing the best we can and trying to think of options to get out of this.”

Through the years, the Pigeon center has proved invaluable to making Haywood County a better place for all. It would be a shame if the programs associated with this organization were no longer available.

Anyone with ideas — or who is willing to help with funding — is invited to step forward.

Donations can be sent to Pigeon Community Multi-Cultural Development Center, Post Office 1494, Waynesville, NC 28786.

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