City council agrees to tear down historical Brookport, IL gym - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

City council agrees to tear down historical Brookport, IL gym

BROOKPORT, IL (KFVS) -  The City Council of Brookport had a general consensus Tuesday night, to tear down the Pellonia Place gym that was damaged during the 2013 tornadoes.

According to former alderman, Larry Call, the city of Brookport has been given a $900,000 grant to help restore the city due to the tornado damage.

In the grant, it states certain buildings would be restored and replaced – while other buildings would be completely torn down…like the Pellonia gym.

The grant was broken down into five phases. 

"The idea was to purchase the former bank building, and refurbish that into a city hall," Call said. "Then tear down the city hall which is not ADA compliant, then put up a storage and maintenance building there and the fifth phase was originally to rehab this old gym as a community center, but when they decided that was cost prohibitive to give the grant to all of that, they said 'we'll give you money to tear it down."

Members of the Brookport Betterment committee say the Pellonia Place gym was pivotal in the integration of whites and African-Americans decades ago.

Committee members were hoping to manage the building and make repairs to the gym through volunteer work, donations and fundraising.

But the gym's destruction was written in the grant, city leaders feared that if they didn't follow the plan exactly, they would lose all the grant money.

"The mayor thinks that if we reuse this building in some way and don't tear it down, the mayor claims that it could put the whole grant in jeopardy," Call said. "From what I have seen, that's not the case."

"The idea is that if anything comes up on the grant that is a little too visible, Governor Rauner is cutting money anywhere he can, and it'll look like 'well, you didn't really need this money so we'll just take all of it back,'" Call said. "That's not how I read Governor Rauner but there are others with different opinion."

While there was debate as to whether or not the committee would be able to make repairs to the gym, but the city council decided it would be best to tear down the gym at last night's meeting.

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