Ordinance appropriates more modest funding; "necessary for the welfare and improvement of the city."
COLUMBIA, 5/17/13 (Beat Byte) -- A promise that dominated the April Columbia City Council elections may be on its way to fulfillment.  A bill before the Columbia City Council appropriates $326,855.00 to finish renovating the interior and exterior of the Blind Boone Home.

"It is in the public interest to construct improvements to the interior and exterior of the JW Blind Boone Home," declares Council bill B148-13, which will be read for a first time at Monday night's Council meeting.  "It is necessary for the welfare and improvement of the city."

To a person, Council candidates promised to fix the Boone Home at a Columbia Muleskinners forum after attendee Khesha Duncan held their feet to the figurative fire.  

The promise came up repeatedly afterward with Mayor Bob McDavid, up for re-election, leading the charge.  
"I want to know when you all are going to fix this historic home," Duncan asked.  "It's been over a decade since the city bought it, and there it sits, blighting the neighborhood."  

A volunteer group -- the Blind Boone Heritage Foundation -- has struggled to raise the renovation money on its own.   But Duncan, this publication, and others have criticized that approach, noting that a private non-profit group should not be responsible for a publicly-owned building.

The Jazz great's home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.  The city bought it in 2000 and painted it after criticism about its condition surfaced during the 2008 City Council race. 

The appropriation is 35% lower than the $500,000 McDavid sought for the effort.  Public criticism of the half-million dollar price tag prompted Council members and Columbia city manager Mike Matthes to refine the figure downward.

If approved by a Council majority, renovations will include new paint and drywall; new heating and air conditioning; fireplace restoration; public restrooms; and ADA compliance.