Unity moves forward at old Garfield School
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - A long awaited Unity Center that will be home to charter school Inspire Academy in the old Garfield School will move forward this spring.
The Muncie Housing Authority, that obtained the property, announced plans Friday to ready the old school for Inspire and also house a child care center and its administrative office there.
Ed Faulkner, president of the MHA board of commissioners, referred to the project as 1600 S. Madison St., this week, telling community activists that it was no replacement for the old YMCA property on South Madison that was demolished for the new Millennium neighborhood,
To resolve some civil rights disputes over renaming a portion of Broadway after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the city agreed to build a new community center in Industry to replace the old YMCA that was built in the 1960s to resolve other civil rights conflicts in the community.
Guillermo Rodriguez, MHA chief executive officer, reported that the housing authority has a five year lease with Inspire .and there were other social service agencies interested in locating there. And there will be space for the Unity Center group along with sharing the gym until new facilities are built.
There's been some environment and other site work besides attempts to acquire parking for center. A proposed budget outlines as much as $2 million could be spent on the facility that would generate revenue for the MHA that has seen reduction in federal housing funds besides allowing a private developer take over new housing neighborhoods like Millennium and Centennial.
Financing has not been finalized and there's still some discussion about a second phase that provide space for recreation programs and community services. The city has about $452,000 in federal housing and economic development funds, and other sources of revenue are being sought.
Rodriquez said the MHA would seek proposals to hire a construction manager and renovation could begin this summer. Inspire, whose organizers include Greg Barnes, Brian Anderson and Lesley Draper, wants to start classes in the fall.It would be the second charter school in Muncie in the old Washington Carver school.
Mayor Dennis Tyler got the Unity Center back on track last fall after finding the last administration did little to advance it. Meetings with MHA officials resulted in plans and progress after neighborhood residents complained .the community center never got built.
Tyler supported the latest project that has been advanced by some of his appointees to the housing board, including Joe Anderson and Myrna Robertson.
Aamir Shabazz, a community activist, believed the neighborhood should operate the center which was the original agreement with the city. And he also raised questions about what happened to other money set aside for the project.
More than 30 Industry residents recently met to raise questions about the project and what money was available. And the Industry Neighborhood Council recently took steps to create a non-profit group to help bring more development to the area.