By Bill Short
The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously adopted a resolution this week to accept a $350,000 grant from Shelby County to demolish the vacant Millington South property.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Don Lowry and seconded by Alderman Mike Caruthers.
At its March 13 meeting, the board voted unanimously to purchase the property at 4885 Bill Knight Road from the county school board for $130,000.
The site, formerly known as Millington South Elementary School and Renaissance Academy North, had been improved by the county with several structures, including a gymnasium and classroom building. But approximately four years ago, all operations on the site were discontinued.
The resolution states that, in the years since the academy’s departure, the vacant site has become “a significant blight” on the community, attracting graffiti and other vandalism.
It notes that Millington has developed several public improvements on adjacent city-owned property, including athletic fields, public parking and support facilities for those improvements.
The city desires to improve the deteriorating site by “eliminating” the vacant buildings and “consolidating” recreational sports fields into a “complex” along Jack Huffman Boulevard.
City Finance Director John Trusty has said Millington intends to convert most of the property into baseball fields and to develop the remainder as park land.
He has noted that it will also “tie into” the greenway connections that are planned as part of the Resiliency Grant, which the county was awarded last year.
The resolution states that part of that grant will allow the county to undertake a “major flood control and community enhancement project” near the site and land previously owned by the city.
Trusty has said there is no other “benefit” to the building on the property than as a school.
“And most of it’s in such bad shape that you wouldn’t want to try to renovate it,” he has noted. “So, a lot of it will be torn down.”
The finance director has acknowledged that part of the building will probably be retained for use by the city. While citing the gymnasium as an example, he has said that “evaluation” has not yet been finalized.
“But we want to clean up the neighborhood, and we’re looking to do this all over the city,” he has emphasized. “Just get rid of anything that’s an empty, blighted building.”
At Monday night’s meeting, Trusty said the adopted resolution will now be submitted to the Shelby County Commission, which he anticipates will approve offering the grant.
In response to a question by Alderman Thomas McGhee, City Attorney Charles Perkins said it is not a “matching” grant. So, no local matching funds will be required.
Calling the grant “extraordinary,” Alderman Bethany Huffman asked Mayor Terry Jones and City Manager Ed Haley to send a letter to County Mayor Mark Luttrell thanking him and “the others responsible” for it.
By Bill Short