UPDATE: Signal Mountain town council considering change to the M - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Signal Mountain town council considering change to the MACC

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Photo: signalmacc.org Photo: signalmacc.org
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, TN (WRCB) -

The future of the Mountain Arts Community Center in Signal Mountain will soon be determined by town council members.

MACC has provided a variety of arts and musical programs for people of all ages in the community for 17 years. The 90-year-old historic building was originally the Signal Mountain Elementary/Grammar School.  

According MACC's website, in order to save and preserve the building, it was leased by the town, and operated as the MACC. In 2009, the Hamilton County Department of Education gifted the building and property to the town.

Last year, mold was discovered in the floors of the auditorium, prompting the center to close it down. But the cost of getting rid of the mold and fixing several other problems to bring the building up to code, prompted the question of whether the center is worth the expensive costs.

"Signal Mountain doesn't make too many three to four million dollar decisions, so this is one of those and so we've got to look at it carefully. Look at all our options and decide which one is the best one," Signal Mountain Dick Gee says.

The council is considering three options; to restore and upgrade the original building, build a new 12,000 sq. ft. facility to house the MACC's programs, or to renovate Town Hall for MACC activities and build a new Town Hall.

The 21,000 sq. ft. building is listed on the National Historic Register, but even that won't help keep its doors from closing.

"A lot of people think when something is listed on the National Historic Register that you're obligated to keep it as it is, and any restoration you have to do you want to keep it in like and kind with the date of origin," Storm says. "It is true for people that are 501c3's or privately owned buildings because you're able to take a tax credit, but we haven't taken any tax credits. So, we have no protection over that."

Storm also says the center hasn't accepted any grants that require the building to stay open.

Meanwhile, parents and clients like Melissa Barrett are hoping the community helps fight for the beloved landmark.

"I'm hoping the town, we can come together and we can find a way to keep this building intact and programs ongoing here. I think it's one of the treasures truly of Signal Mountain," Barrett says. "I've seen too many communities die or lose their historic structures and buildings, and that's part of the community's identity. I'd hate to see that happen here."

MACC director, Barb Storm tells Channel 3, the decision will come down to finance and what is best for the center.

There will be a town meeting at Town Hall on Nov. 3 at 11 a.m. to discuss MACC's future.

Gee says though the outcome lays in the hands of council members, a decision won't be made for at least another month.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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