Arch Stable, Funding Less So

Repairs have been made to Ridgeway's iconic arch, but money to complete the project is getting hard to come by. (Photo/Courtesy Heath Cookendorfer)

Repairs have been made to Ridgeway’s iconic arch, but money to complete the project is getting hard to come by. (Photo/Courtesy Heath Cookendorfer)

RIDGEWAY – Phase one of the restoration of the old Ridgeway School arch, the last remaining structure from the long-ago demolished school and its auditorium on Church and Means streets, is complete, Councilman Heath Cookendorfer reported during Council’s Aug. 13 meeting. Funding for the rest of the project, however, remains in limbo.

Cookendorfer told Council last week that King Murphy had stabilized the arch, bricking in the base of the structure to prevent further erosion and water damage. Phase two, he said, would entail building brick steps around and leading up to the arch. Cookendorfer’s arch committee, he said, would be asking Council for $200 to pay for architectural drawings, and another $100 would be necessary to purchase the original bricks back from the Ridgeway resident who bought them from the Town after the auditorium was demolished in 2007.

That money is in addition to what Cookendorfer has estimated would be $20,000-$30,000 to completely restore the crumbling arch.

“I look at it as a community project,” Councilman Russ Brown said. “The community asked for it. The town is on a tight budget as it is. You can’t start a project and get halfway through it and not have the funds to finish it. We can’t come up with $200 right now. It doesn’t look promising to come up with $20,000.”

When a 2007 storm destroyed the roof of the auditorium, leading to its ultimate demise, the Town received an insurance settlement of $480,000. At a Council meeting last November, former Councilman Robert Hartman suggested some of what remained of those funds be used to restore the arch. But last week, Council made it clear they were reluctant to turn any of that money loose.

“That money I think we have saved in the past because we don’t have a big budget,” Mayor Charlene Herring said after last week’s meeting. “We don’t know if we’ll have another crisis. We don’t have air conditioning upstairs in this building (The Century House) here that we really need.”

“There’s also the water tower,” Brown added. “We’ve got to have something in savings in case there’s a big problem.”

Ridgeway received a $1,000 Community Enhancement Grant from the County last year, which went toward the arch, and Cookendorfer said he was now in the process of setting up an online Go Fund Me account to raise money for the project.

With Council sitting on the remainder of the insurance settlement – which, contrary to popular belief, was not earmarked for the arch, Councilman Donald Prioleau said – it is apparent that funds for the arch are going to have to come from elsewhere.

“They (the community) came to us asking for it and we didn’t have money to throw away in the budget,” Brown said. “We said get together and form a group. They got a group and they’re getting those things together. The fact is, if we spend all our money on materialistic things, we’re not going to have any when we have infrastructure problems.”

 

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