Former Woodburn School to host Saturday block party

MORGANTOWN — There’s a 100-year-old brick building standing at the heart of the Woodburn neighborhood that, according to Chris Haddox, is as much a part of the Morgantown community today as it was during the decades it served the board of education as an elementary school.
Haddox, the chairman of the Woodburn School Redevelopment Committee, is asking residents to stop by 918 Fortney Street   between 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon for a community block party that will offer a firsthand look at just what’s going on at the old Woodburn Elementary School building.
“To some degree, I think it’s out of sight, out of mind for a lot of people. It’s up there on the hill and folks drive right by it without much thought,” Haddox said, explaining the building is the home of Mountaineer Boys & Girls Club, PopShop Performance Academy, MT Pockets Theatre and Friends of Deckers Creek.
“Between those entities, it’s hard to put a number on how many are served. The Boys & Girls Club has about 230 kids enrolled, and so you think about the impact on working parents. PopShop has 80 kids enrolled. Friends of Deckers Creek serves the entire Deckers Creek watershed, so the ripple effect out into the community is very significant and impacts all of us in some way,” he said.
The building was closed as an elementary school in 2010. In 2013, the City of Morgantown purchased  the structure and four-acre property for $490,000  and promptly formed the volunteer, advisory committee charged with charting its future.
Since then, much of the focus has been on addressing the mechanical issues that come with maintaining a building of that age, though Haddox said it remains in sound structural condition.
The city contracted with Mills Group for $58,500 in February to help turn approximately  $350,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds into more accessible bathrooms and entry ways. The funds will also be used to construct ramps and install an elevator.
Haddox said he hopes anyone interested in the old Woodburn School will come out, meet with the building’s tenants and enjoy a Saturday afternoon.
“We just want people to come out and see firsthand what’s going on,” he said.
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