Chamber’s new home?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 24, 2013

If Opp Mayor John Bartholomew has his way, the Opp Chamber of Commerce will soon have a better place to call home — the city’s historic depot.

Bartholomew pitched the idea to the Opp City Council on Tuesday night at its workshop.

“The place they are in is a rough place,” he said. “DRA and the Chamber could get a grant for a new roof and have a great welcome center. The city would be able to use it and so would the whole city.”

Revitalizing the Depot has been part of the long-range downtown revitalization plan presented to the city by Scott Farmer of the Southeast Regional Planning and Development Commission in March 2010.

The plan called for the depot to be rehabilitated into a multi-function facility that would house office space. It also called for the west side of the building to be rehabilitated for use for city and public functions in order to place the depot as a focal point for downtown Opp.

Improvements to the Depot were part of the FY2011 budget, in which $100,000 for roofing was to be set aside using funds from the 2007 bond issue, and $50,000 was budgeted in FY2012 for Depot expenses.

Bartholomew said the city’s budget doesn’t allow for the expenses it would incur to fix the Depot.

“The city’s budget is so tight, that we don’t have the money for the repairs,” he said. “But if the Chamber, DRA and other committees could come together, we could have it repaired.”

Bartholomew said that if the back room in the Depot were fixed up, it would allow the city to host large conferences.

Bartholomew said the city could allow the Chamber to utilize the space or it could let it sit like it is for one or two more years.

“The Chamber is willing to put money into it,” he said. “Right now we have nothing.”