Updated Fri, Apr 27, 2012 2:40 pm
After 20 years of debate, the Marietta Armory Restoration Project is beginning despite mixed reactions from the community.
Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said many people in the community do not want the Armory restored, but refuse to come forward and say it publicly.
He said many are business owners that do not want to hurt their businesses by coming forward. Matthews said he supports the Restoration project as long as it is self-sufficient, but he thinks there should be a vote on it.
"I would like to see it put on the ballot and let people in Marietta vote on it that way we have a constant income to be able to support it and keep it open," Matthews said. "As of right now we can go ahead and put the new roof on and windows and doors in it, but if we don't have any money to do the rest of the work it's going to sit there that way."
Matthews said the city cannot provide any funds to the project due to a lack of available funds.
Harley Noland, Marietta councilman at large, said the project is being broken up into phases, with phase one being fully funded. Phase one includes the installation of windows and doors. Phase two would improve the roof and ground floor, but does not have the funds to begin it.
Noland said the plan is to turn the Armory into a town center for Marietta, due to its lack of tourist attractions.
Noland said, "The need is that we don't have a community center, and we don't have a downtown tourist information center, we don't have a bus station, and we need an anchor that will draw people into our historic downtown."
Most of the funding received has been donations and grants given to the project. Noland said the problem is some of the grants are set to expire because they have not been used.
He said, "Funding is always a problem and it has taken many years to get all the grant fundings together and then it has been so long that some of those funds are now starting to expire."
Phase one is set to be completed by the end of July and if phase two gets fully funded it would be set to be completed by the end of August, Noland said.
The councilman said more phases are needed to complete the top two floors so much more funding is needed for the Restoration project to be fully complete.