Houston schools to delay Rumble demolition

Rumble Academy demolition delayed

jmink@macon.comJuly 30, 2013 


Rumble Academy students run for their buses after their school day in 2011. The building’s possible demolition has been delayed from 2014 to 2015.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com

PERRY -- Houston County schools will delay the demolition of Rumble Academy until August 2015, school officials decided Tuesday during a retreat.

The aged building, which was slated to be demolished in August 2014, will continue standing for an additional year to give the community a chance to save it.

The building is scheduled to be torn down as part of a school improvement project, a move that sparked controversy throughout the community. A group of residents rallied against the demolition, arguing that the building -- which housed the original Warner Robins High School -- is part of the town’s short history and should remain standing.

“I’m elated that they’re giving us more time to think about this and come up with a plan,” said Brian Russ, a Warner Robins High alumnus and participant in the Save Rumble movement.

The group has applied for Rumble to be designated as one of the Places in Peril by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. The designation would open the door for potential grants and other funding, “especially with the delay we have now,” Russ said.

Still, school board members voiced concerns about how the 68-year-old building could be used. Previously, school board members have questioned the cost and efficiency of refurbishing and maintaining the old building. The demolition would cost a little more than $1 million.

While he agreed to pushing the demolition date back, school board member Skip Dawkins said a group must be completely committed to a renovation project for it to work. Otherwise, the building must be demolished, he said.

“Unless you’ve got somebody who really wants to get in the middle of it, ... it just becomes a burden that they expect us to bear, which we can’t,” he said.

Board member Dave McMahan suggested the demolition be moved to the bottom of the district’s to-do list, which would give the community more time to develop a strategy.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” he said. “As a history person ... I hope it’s saved, as long as it can be saved.”

School officials agreed to delay demolition but said if a solid plan is not developed by August 2015, the building will be demolished.

“That’s as fair as we can be in this regard,” Chairwoman Marianne Melnick said.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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