COLUMBIA — Mayor Bob McDavid asked the Columbia City Council to use half a million dollars of budget surplus to complete the renovation of pianist John "Blind" Boone's home.
Since its purchase by the city in 2000, the Blind Boone house has sat empty at 10 N. Fourth St. Extensive renovations to the exterior of the house were completed in 2009, but the inside is unusable.
"It needs heating, air-conditioning, plumbing and all the wiring," McDavid said.
Clyde Ruffin, chair of the J.W. "Blind" Boone Foundation, described the house as a shell.
"The $500,000 would complete everything," Ruffin said.
The foundation itself has been fundraising for improvements on the house. It has raised $26,000 for an outdoor tribute garden where small concerts could be held, Ruffin said. But the organization still needs an additional $10,000 to get that project under way.
If approved, the $500,000 would come from Columbia's $1.9 million surplus in general funds, which McDavid attributes to "having a very disciplined city manager and carefully managing the city budget."
"This surplus is an ideal pool of money to handle unfinished business," McDavid said. "It's a matter of philosophy of what to do with this money."
McDavid proposes that $500,000 go toward completing the renovation of the Blind Boone home and the remaining $1.4 million of the surplus go toward maintaining Columbia's roads.
The interior of the home would be done to reflect Victorian-era style, using original photographs to best recreate the appearance of the house, Ruffin said.
"We want the house to be a part of the community, not just a monument sitting there," he said.
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