Centraplex given back to original foundation

Published 2:51 pm Friday, August 19, 2011

Legal litigation has concluded allowing the city to turn the Centraplex back over to the Foundation that entrusted the city with it about 12 years ago.

Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., said the council came up with a contract Tuesday after a council meeting executive session that would turn the Centraplex back over to the Foundation for Civic Development, allowing the foundation to conduct the repairs on the building.

About two years ago part of the Centraplex was damaged in a fire. The damaged section of the Centraplex is being torn down by the owner of the side that suffered the fire.

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The fire did cause some damage to the side that is not being torn down, and Martha Sheppard, president of the Foundation for Civic Development, said the plan is to rebuild the Centraplex back to the way it was prior to the fire.

“We think this is a good thing for the citizens and civic groups and we hope it works out real well,” Pinero said.

Insurance funds received by the city will be used by the foundation to rebuild the Centraplex, which will allow those repairs to be conducted at a reduced price since the foundation will not have to meet the same regulations a municipality would, Pinero said.

Once repairs are complete the Centraplex can house the civic clubs it did previous to the fire, such as Shriners, Carver Museum, Community Band, Picayune on Stage and the Greater Picayune Arts Council, Pinero said.

The building could also host events that require a large space, such as weddings or the annual health fair, Sheppard said.

Sheppard expects to receive the official paper work next week, which will allow the foundation to begin looking for a contractor to conduct repairs. If all goes well Sheppard hopes to have the building back up and running by Christmas of this year.

“I know that is very optimistic, but I’m an optimistic person,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard would like to thank her son Steve Sheppard and Beau Stewart who both helped iron out the legal issues, much of which was done pro bono.