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Rockdale open house to address concerns about Restoration Storehouse project

Rockdale County Chairman Oz Nesbitt, Sr. will provide an overview of the Restoration Storehouse project slated to move into the Rockdale County Government Annex Building at 1400 Parker Road in Conyers. Government staff and others housed in the building are being relocated in phases as Restoration Storehouse begins renovating for a one-stop operation that will provide an array of services to the needy.

Nesbitt is hosting the community open house on Monday, Oct. 30, 6 p.m., and inviting citizens, church leaders and nonprofits to learn how they may participate in the centralized services that will be offered.

While Nesbitt says the operation will fill a dire need in the community, others have expressed concern about the county’s lease agreement with Restoration Storehouse. Josie Dean, who heads the Rockdale County Think Tank, said she is worried that small nonprofits might be shut out of the county-owned facility and find it impossible to receive funding with an umbrella organization such as Restoration Storehouse overseeing a one-stop shop.

“Restoration Storehouse will be able to decide who can move in and how much each tenant will have to pay. They will also be able to go after all of the funding as one big nonprofit. It’s going to knock everyone else out of being able to go after funding,” said Dean. “That’s stealing power.”

Janice Morris, who runs the non-profit Helping Hands Clinic, which provides health education and technology training in Rockdale, said she had questions about the county’s lease.

“My concern is why the county is giving away a government-owned facility. In the past, they   rejected the idea. And if the county is focused on economic development, I don’t understand why the building isn’t being used for that purpose—training, the film industry, universities and other ways to draw business,” said Morris, who years ago served on a committee that analyzed ways county buildings could be utilized.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a lease agreement with Restoration Storehouse on Aug. 22. The 501(c) 3 non-profit provides life skills, employment training, intervention and counseling, food, clothing and other resources to those in need.

Jeff Beach, who chairs Restoration Storehouse’s board of directors, told those who attended the BOC meeting that his organization is willing to allow other nonprofits to utilize the building.

“For somebody to come in and occupy space fulltime, we have proposed a cost-sharing model to look at how we cover all of the basics of maintaining that space. Currently, that number’s in the neighborhood of about $2 per square foot per year, which is pennies on the dollar compared to what a typical commercial lease would run. But we do have a realistic responsible way to share the cost associated with that facility when people are ready to move into to be a part of it,” Beach said.

Nesbitt is encouraging stakeholders to attend the upcoming tour and overview, where they will be able to ask questions.

 

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