Concerns Surround Jefferson School Project

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

November 20, 2006

Several people voiced concerns to the Charlottesville City Council about the Jefferson School project.

"This process seems to be an endless movement of delays and little or no action on the part of City Council," said Jefferson School Alumni Ida Lewis.

Tonight, City Council heard from frustrated residents concerned about the direction of the Jefferson School project. The historic building has been deteriorating over the years as definitive plans for its renovation and further use have been pondered. It's a process that has left several in the dark.

"There is much frustration for many of us in the community because we continue to go over the same information with no indication of progress on the much needed improvements to the buildings," said concerned resident Leah Puryear.

"I feel responsible in some ways for us not moving forward faster. I take some blame for that," said Mayor David Brown.

Federal law prohibits the city's ownership of the school, so they must deed the land to general partners, making the project eligible for federal tax breaks. Council is in the process of recommending those general partners to an independent agency. It's a process that has taken longer than expected but one that the Mayor hopes will prove to be positive.

"I want to get the best group of people possible. I think it should be a group of people who represent the community and a group that the community can have real faith in," Mayor Brown said.

City Council hopes to have those recommendations to the independent agency by the end of the month. Once the general partners are established, the $30 million project can break ground. That is slated for some time in 2008.

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