City pursues plan for Warner school to be a preschool

By JOHN A. WINTERS
john@newnan.com
Newnan City Council members voted to have city staff prepare a memorandum of understanding with the proposed tenant for the old Howard Warner School during the regular city council meeting Tuesday.
The agreement would outline the various duties and obligations between the city, which owns the property, and Rakoo Enterprises, which wants to use the old school on Savannah Street for a preschool program emphasizing arts and music. That agreement is expected to be ready for council review at its first meeting in June.
A Howard Warner Committee appointed by the city council was tasked with finding the best use for the old school and presented its report at Tuesday’s meeting. The committee received about 25 recommendations and finally recommended the city lease the building to Rakoo at a low rate, while at the same time giving Rakoo at least six months to conduct a feasibility study and come back with recommendations.
Currently, the non-profit does not have sufficient funding to renovate the buildings or run the program. However, Rakoo is developing several fundraising ideas and would conduct an engineering study to determine the cost of renovating the buildings.
Those fundraising ideas and the enthusiasm of Shellie Hardee, director of Rakoo, were among the reasons the committee selected that company, said Dr. Rebecca Gibson, chairwoman of the committee.
Questions from council members ranged from what hours the facility would operate to remodeling plans and whether the current floor plan would work.

“We don’t want to gut the building,” Hardee said. “That’s part of the charm.”

The school probably will offer morning and afternoon classes during the school year, as well as several summer camp programs, she added.

Mayor Keith Brady said he did not think Rakoo should have to conduct an engineering study since the property is owned by the city; rather the city probably should do its own study. The memorandum of understanding is expected to address that issue.

Rakoo hopes to open its school in the fall of 2013.

Also Tuesday, council approved a request from the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society to hold a “Meet The Artist” event to be held June 9 from 2-5 p.m.

Visitors will get a chance to meet with the artists who painted the various horses now located throughout downtown, various parks and other areas.

Through secured sponsorships of 25 horses — colts, standing and grazing thoroughbreds — NCHS is raising money for a planned interactive children’s museum in Newnan. It is to be housed in a former residence on Clark Street used at one time for offices and programs by Newnan Hospital.

In other action, council:

• Approved a request from Woodridge Productions and Sony Pictures, which produce the Lifetime Television series “Drop Dead Diva,” to film scenes for the upcoming fourth season at the 1904 Coweta County Courthouse in downtown Newnan on May 15 and 16.

• Approved a request from Muhammad Ashraf for a retail off premise (package) sales of malt beverages and wine license for Crescent Food Mart at 10 The Crescent.

• Approved a request from city staff to approve a bid of $237,868 from ShepCo Paving Inc. for full-depth reclamation and paving of Pinson Street. The project includes removing and replacing damaged curb and gutter sections, sidewalks and driveway aprons, among other things. The money would come from 2007 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.

• Approved a request from staff to enter into an agreement with Coweta County for reconstruction of Parkway North.

The existing portion of the road runs from Bullsboro Drive to a tie-in of a new section of Parkway North currently under construction as part of the new Cancer Treatment Center of America’s complex between Interstate 85 and Newnan Crossing Bypass. The city and county would each pay for the section within their boundaries. The city’s share would be about $241,000 and paid for with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2007 funds.



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