SCA Asks Sewanee Council for Funding Assistance

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“The Mountain Goat Trail Welcome and Heritage Center will serve both as a trailhead and a resource offering historical and current information for visitors and community members alike,” said Sewanee Civic Association President Kiki Beavers appealing to the Sewanee Community Council at the Mach 25 meeting for financial help with operating costs to enable the Center to realize its full potential as “a source of community pride and site for social interaction.” The council also heard an update on the proposed Arcadia senior living facility and a report on the Traffic Safety Committee’s research on speed cushions as a traffic calming tool.

Now in its 115th year, the SCA’s most recent big project was Elliott Park. The SCA sponsors Sewanee Classifieds and three programs enhancing quality of life on the Plateau, the Non-Food Supply Drive, the School Supply Drive, and the Sewanee Community Chest. Beavers estimated completing the Welcome and Heritage Center project would cost an additional $128,000. Located at the former Hair Depot site, the Center currently features bike racks and benches, with information kiosks on the way (total cost of Phase 1, $17,000, with the South Cumberland Community Fund contributing $8,500). Phase 2 improvements to the building will include an ADA compliant restroom and deck, HVAC, and utility upgrades. When the doors open, the Center will serve as the permanent home of the Historical Downtown Sewanee exhibit, as well as other exhibits telling the story of the Plateau, its people and places. The Sewanee Class of ’73 had donated $63,000 to Phase 2, with additional Class of ’73 donations and grants a possibility.

What needs to happen for the project to move forward? “We need to raise the money,” Beavers said, “the University needs to ‘ok’ the renovation, it’s their building, and the SCA needs to show we can pay for ongoing monthly expenses.” The basics — janitorial services, WiFi, and utilities — will cost approximately $20,000 annually. The SCA’s only revenue source, $10 annual dues from the 700 members, is not meeting current expenses for insurance, software for the Sewanee Classifieds, and other related costs, Beavers stressed. Dues will need to increase to at least $15 and would need to increase to $20-$24 to pay operating expenses for the Center. Beavers said the SCA was reaching out to community partners for help paying the operating costs, suggesting the council’s Community Project Funding program as a source.

Superintendent of Leases Sallie Green said the Community Project Funding initiative received $10,000 annually from lease fees to distribute as grants. Potential grantees needed to apply each year. Project Funding committee member June Weber concurred, “Other people have [ongoing needs] as well. We have to spread the wealth.” Council member Lynn Stubblefield proposed a portion of lease fees be allocated to pay the Center’s operating expenses, as was the case with fire and police protection. “It’s something we would have to discuss,” Green said. Vice Chancellor Rob Pearigen asked for a project analysis on the Welcome Center “showing what the costs are, what we’ve pledged, and where the gap is.”

Updating the council on the proposed Arcadia senior living facility, council member John Solomon said a recent site evaluation pointed to an Alabama Avenue/Kennerly Avenue location as “optimal” based on access to the Village and Highway 41A. Plans call for 100 units, cottages, row houses, and an apartment building with 60 units offering Assisted Living and Memory Care. Solomon noted “financers institutions were skeptical” when market analyses showed high reliance on alumni. Council member Laura Willis commented the high number of alums who purchased homes on the domain suggested alums would find a senior living facility in Sewanee attractive.

Traffic Safety Committee chair Michael Payne related what he had learned about speed cushions from his research and consultation with a Chattanooga traffic engineer. Nationwide speed cushions have become a popular traffic calming tool, slowing traffic to 20-25 mph and costing approximately $750 each. Speed cushions were not allowed on state highways, Payne said, and not suitable for curves and steep inclines. Acting Provost Scott Wilson said an investigation was underway to determine what was “permissible” and which streets were “eligible” candidates for speed cushions. Payne suggested a possible “test” on several streets to determine speed cushions’ effectiveness.

Green reminded council members about the Community Cleanup scheduled for April 27. Meet at the Welcome Center at 9 a.m.

The council meeting dates for the 2024-2025 academic year are Sept. 23, Oct. 28, Jan. 27, March 24, and May 19. The following dates have been set aside as reserve dates if business needed addressed: Aug. 26, Nov. 25, Feb. 17 or 24, April 28, and June 23.

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