With God on their side, the folks at Oasis Center Inc. believe they can ultimately finish $750,000 in renovations to the former J.A. Farrell school to transform it into a center that helps people in the struggling city of Farrell.

Monday, Oasis� leaders lobbied city council for some cash to help move the project along.

�Man�s impossibilities are God�s possibilities,� said Bishop Stephen Bennefield of New and Living Way Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.

The church is affiliated with Oasis, which was formed as a nonprofit, faith-based corporation to help the group secure public funding for the project.

Last year the group asked council for a slice of the city�s Community Development Block Grant, which has averaged about $325,000 in recent years.

They were turned away, but encouraged to seek money this year.

But they have again been told the block grant is already spoken for.

That doesn�t mean city officials don�t support them.

�I believe in your vision, I�m in your corner,� Councilwoman the Rev. Jeanette Hubbard said. �I believe you deserve the chance.�

Mayor Olive McKeithan agreed.

�I just admire you for trying to fix up any building in Farrell,� she said.

As a longtime community advocate, Mrs. McKeithan said she understands the battles that must be fought to find money to pay for projects.

�It�s a struggle when you have a vision and don�t have the money,� she said.

�Council applauds your efforts,� Councilman Lou Falconi said.

�You look at this picture and you want to cry,� Falconi said of a depiction of a renovated school. �To see what it could be.�

As a lad, Falconi attended the school and said he�d like to see the project happen. But city officials just don�t have extra cash to help � especially not the $100,000 Oasis originally lobbied for.

The group pared down its request to $20,000, but it�s still not likely the city will be able to kick in that amount, unless something miraculous happens.

Frank Gargiulo, the city�s economic development director, said CDBG allotments are expected to be more this year, but �until you actually see it (the cash), it�s not real.�

The city�s plans for the grant aren�t really negotiable. Of the $326,511 budget, $44,623 goes for administration and $95,000 to code enforcement. The lion�s share � $123,465 � is devoted to repaying a $1 million federal loan council floated last year to pay for street improvements.

The rest of the cash is pegged to buy new cameras for the city�s high crime area and replace the roof on the Stey-Nevant Public Library.

Oasis is trying to find other funding routes and remains committed to the project with or without council�s help.

But Bishop Bennefield said when all is said and done, they would like the city to be in their court.

�I�d like to proudly say the city stood behind us,� he said.

The process to divvy up the CDBG cash continues March 23 at another public hearing before council submits the application.

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