News Column

East Side gets extension on overdue loan

February 23, 2014

By Chip Womick, The Courier-Tribune, Asheboro, N.C.



Feb. 23--ASHEBORO -- A fund-raising effort to stave off foreclosure of two buildings on the old Central School campus in east Asheboro has raised just over $25,000 in a month.

Organizers hope they can raise a similar amount in the next 30 days or so, pointing toward March 26, the new foreclosure date on the property.

The original foreclosure date passed on Feb. 13.

"We got a 45-day extension from the bank," said Deneal McNair, president of a recently reorganized board for the East Side Improvement Association.

"They saw how much fund-raising we were doing and we had made some changes as far as the East Side Association board. The bank was happy to see that."

The non-profit ESIA is in default on a $175,000 loan secured in 2000. The money was used to renovate the former Central School gym for use by the Central Boys & Girls Club, which is housed in the facility. The former elementary school on the campus, which houses the Asheboro Day Care Center, is also affected by a pending foreclosure.

A grassroots effort to raise money to pay off the outstanding debt of $82,940.99, which includes the loan balance, interest and late fees kicked off at a community meeting on Jan. 21. Since then donations have come from near and far, McNair said.

Some people have donated by mail; some online, via a pair of pages dedicated to the effort on Fundly.com, a crowdfunding platform; and some have delivered their money in person. Between $3,000 and $4,000 was generated at a rally and fun day at the gym on Feb. 1.

Upcoming fund-raisers will include an indoor yard sale and raffle on March 1 and a banquet on March 22.

Next week, ESIA representatives plan to sit down with those from the Boys & Girls Club to renegotiate a lease. The old lease calls for a payment of just $1 a year for use of the gym. Plans are under way to shore up operations at the Asheboro Day Care Center, an ESIA tenant that has not paid its rent in at least two years, McNair said. Randolph Community College also leases space in the building.

A CPA is combing the nonprofit organization's bank records for the past several years in an attempt to determine what went awry, McNair said.

"We have two gentlemen that are volunteering to work on a business plan for us and a sustainability plan going forward," he added.

Board members are also scrambling to get missing paperwork to the Internal Revenue Service to maintain nonprofit status.

"Apparently, the last three or four years paperwork wasn't filed at all," he said. "We have to get those forms to the IRS. As of right now, everything's OK."

McNair said response by people who "want to see ownership of the buildings stay in the community" has exceeded expectations.

But he said there's a good reason for that.

There are three buildings on the old Central School property. The original two-story school, which opened in 1926, has been transformed into apartments for low-income, elderly residents. A former one-story elementary school building houses the Asheboro Day Care Center; the freestanding gym is home to the Central Boys & Girls Club. (The apartments are not affected by the pending foreclosure.)

Until 1965, when the buildings were shuttered as part of school integration, the campus was the hub of community activity, school-related and otherwise. In 1981, the ESIA purchased the then-dilapidated buildings and slowly renovated them, recreating the community hub.

"There's a lot of history," McNair said. "Just the thought, the possibility, of losing those buildings would be devastating to the community."

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Donations may be mailed to: East Side Improvement Association Inc. -- East Side On The Move, P.O. Box 423, Asheboro, NC 27204. Links to make online contributions can be found on the group's Facebook page, SAVE EASTSIDE ASHEBORO GYMNASIUM & DAYCARE.

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(c)2014 The Courier-Tribune, Asheboro, N.C.

Visit The Courier-Tribune, Asheboro, N.C. at www.courier-tribune.com

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Source: Courier-Tribune (Asheboro, NC)


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