Thanks to the collaborative effort of Magnolia Citizens Police Academy graduates, Magnolia residents and several area businesses, an abandoned building at 158 Roy Street in Magnolia that many neighbors consider a danger will be demolished Aug 4. The project is being led by the newly established Magnolia Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, and it will be done at no cost to the city.
When Summer Foltz and Jill Gabriel graduated from the CPA March 22, they left with an increased awareness of the needs within the Magnolia community.
“It was all very eye-opening for us,” Foltz said. “When you live in a small town such as Magnolia, the police officers are often working with very limited resources. We began to see that there were ways that we, as citizens, could help."
This urge to better the community led the duo to create the MCPAAA. The organization—which aims to solve problems by building connections between residents, the police department and the city—has hit the ground running with its first project: the Roy Street demolition.
“We just went out and started talking to neighbors to get a better idea about how we could help,” said Foltz, who serves as president of the MCPAAA. “This project addresses a need that I never realized was as urgent as it was.”
The project has elicited responses like “Thank you Lord” and “This is so needed” from neighbors in the area, according to Foltz, and led to a teary expression of gratitude from a resident at the July 10 City Council meeting.
“We're reaching out to a part of town that has really been neglected for a while,” Foltz said. “You can see how much this means to them.”
The project has been organized by volunteers and funded entirely by donations, Foltz said. The Waste Corporation of America is providing dumpsters and waste disposal services free of charge. Attorney Steve Crews is taking care of the legal work pro-bono. Local businesses such as Magnolia Food Basket, Magnolia Party Depot and Signs of Magnolia have all made donations. In addition, the contractor, DLG Timber, agreed to complete the project at no cost.
The MCPAAA is inviting all residents to the demolition, which takes place at 8 a.m. Aug 4. The event will be followed by a block party with fun and educational activities organized with the help of Keep Montgomery County Beautiful.
“[KMCB] has a lot of beautification plans for Magnolia,” said Charlotte Riser Harris, chair of KMCB. “We've been working mostly on litter, but abandoned buildings are a huge piece. It's exciting to see other areas of the community come together with the same vision we have to create an environment we're proud of.”
The MCPAAA mission is not just about beautification, according to Foltz. It is about building strong bonds in the community and making life-long connections. The organization is already looking at areas to target in the future with similar needs.
"We have a few more buildings in the community that we are looking to remove including at least one abandoned building in which a serious crime was recently committed," Foltz said. "We also have other plans involving helping senior and disabled residents bring their homes and yards into city code."
A heavy trash pick-up has also been planned with help from WCA for July 16. Residents are encouraged to place large trash items on the curbside.
Magnolia Police Chief Domingo Ibarra said he is proud and honored to see the program's graduates are immediately looking for ways to help.
"This is their project," he said. "They took it upon themselves to put this together and organize the volunteers. I'm amazed. This is unprecedented for the City of Magnolia."