The City of Weston was recently awarded a $10,000 scholarship through the Division of Culture and History to complete a study on the Columbia Club, located on Court Avenue, and is seeking another grant to assist with restoration efforts, pending the results of the study.
While Columbia Club is currently privately owned, the grant was still applicable.
Weston worked with the Northern West Virginia Brownfields group to complete the initial application for the first grant last October. They originally original requested $28,000 in the application, but the city only received $10,000, which was announced in April.
The use of the money is subject to the grant terms outlined by the distributor, and must be used for the purpose it was granted for: a study of the Columbia Club.
This grant also requires several in-kind donations, according to Weston Mayor Julia Spelsberg. These include technical assistance from the Brownfields group, Weston Street Department work, marketing and volunteer help.
“When someone applies for a grant, there is always a need for in-kind donations on the applicant’s side,” said Spelsberg.
On April 24, Weston City Manager/Clerk Kristin Droppleman and Building Inspector Bryan Reed went to Charleston for the awards ceremony on this grant and to learn about its implementation.
Reed is going to be the grant manager. As such, he will be required to follow the state guidelines in advertising and requesting proposals to study the building structure and/or whether it can be reused.
In March, the West Virginia Commerce Department released a grant application for state organizations and non-profit groups.
The City of Weston and the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), put together an application in three weeks for this grant for the Columbia Club as well.
“Since the grant applications take such a long time for study, the decision was made to make the application, even though the city does not know the stability of the building,” Spelsberg said. “If it is found that the building is unusable, the commerce department grant can be turned down if it is won.”
According to Spelsberg, the grant was made for the stabilization of the building, installation of gutters/downspouts, roof repair, removal of the front addition and to make the basement a usable space.
Dilapidated buildings were identified in the Weston Comprehensive plan in 2014, as a chief complaint of residents. The city has worked with the Brownsfield group over the last few years to combat that issue.
“The Columbia Club is a major concern because of the problems it has caused the adjacent neighbors,” said Spelsberg. “It is an eyesore for the entire town and it is a priority for the city, whether tearing it down or rehabbing the building is taking a proactive stance on the situation.”
Spelsberg said that the city hopes to eventually be able to use the basement area as classrooms and to stabilize the chapel.