Thursday, May 29, 2014

City to receive $497K to adapt Chapman School for reuse as a library

Caty Greene, Apalachicola Municipal Librarian
Photo by Gail Johnson

The Florida Legislature has allocated in the states FY 2014-15 budget, $497K to the City of Apalachicola for the adaptive reuse of the 80-year-old Chapman School into a Municipal Library.

The appropriation comes under the Florida Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services Public Library Construction Grant, which has been applied for by the city over the last several years beginning in 2008 when Cindi Giametta, the city’s former grants manager wrote and submitted the initial grant application.

Apalachicola Municipal Librarian, Caty Greene took over the task of writing the grant in 2011, and her persistent efforts in doing so in each successive year has finally paid huge dividends for the people of Apalachicola.

The grant calls for the remodeling of the 6400 sq. ft. Chapman School for use as an independent municipal library headquarters, with Architect fees, which include planning costs totaling $38K of the award. Eighty-nine thousand has been earmarked to install an elevator, $92K for initial equipment and the remaining $278K towards the actual remodeling.

“Since obtaining permission from the county to include the school in this year’s Tour of Homes, there has been an outpour of community interest in seeing the building restored”, said Susan Buzzett-Clementson, Chair of the Apalachicola Municipal Library Board.  “Once we get in there, we will be able to raise more funds.”

In addition, during the 36th Annual Conference of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation held in Tampa this year, the Trust announced that the school was identified as a success for ongoing preservation funding efforts.

And just last year, Kara J. Litvinas, then a graduate student in Historic Preservation at the University of Florida, wrote a thesis on Chapman’s adaptive use as a partial fulfillment of the requirements for her Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation.  

“In the case of Apalachicola, the reuse of Chapman School is just one example of a type of catalyst project that could spark positive community growth”, wrote Litvinas.

The Legislature also appropriated $50K during the 2014 session to place a new roof over the building.  In addition, there’s the possibility of utilizing the $421K bequeathed to the Apalachicola Municipal Library by the Key estate.

The good news in all of this, is that there’s no matching requirement for the $497K grant. Under the State’s Rural Economic Development Imitative (REDI) the city gets to benefit from a waiver of the required match.

However, before the residents of Apalachicola can begin utilizing and enjoying the dĂ©cor of a restored 80-year-old Art Deco building as the home of its library, there’s a few hurdles that has to be jumped.

The funding allocation must first survive Gov. Rick Scott’s veto pen and an agreement to renovate and use the facility as a library has to be reached with the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners, who were deeded the property by the School Board in 2009 and finding a new home for the building’s current occupant.