Turning Howard Warner School into a community center

The old Howard Warner School is back in the news.

A little background first. Located on Savannah Street, it was the city’s black high school from 1935 until desegregation. The Coweta County School System used the complex for offices, and eventually donated it to the city in 2008.

And now it just sits there, slowly decaying. A committee was formed to look at potential uses for the old school. Two organizations were approved to use it, but those entities would have to get the buildings up to code — estimated at $1.75 million. Both groups dropped out at the prohibitive cost.

Recently, Newnan Councilwoman Cynthia Jenkins proposed turning the dilapidated school into a city community and recreation center. Right now, the city has $1.5 million set aside from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for a community center on the city’s east side.

We believe Jenkins’ proposal has merit, and we encourage the city to conduct the necessary studies to see if the plan would 1). serve that area of the community adequately and 2). is financially feasible.

Jenkins’ plan is still in the talking stages, but the idea of using the historic building, and adding a gym to the mix, seems plausible. It would be a shame to have to tear down the entire structure, unless the complex is just too far gone and not worth repairing. But that’s what the studies should determine.

The other issue is getting someone or some organization to run the facility to ensure it is open long enough during the week to make it a true community and recreational center. Coweta County officials have indicated they would be interested in taking over the building management, and the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club have expressed some interest in locating satellite programs there.

Right now, everyone is just talking, but we encourage those talks to continue. There is money set aside for a community and recreational complex on the east side, and there’s a potential historical building to use. We don’t see how any private entity would want to spend the necessary funds to get the old school up to code. This could be a good opportunity to use our tax dollars for a much-needed complex in that area.



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