The Hope Center closes temporarily because of building permit issue

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - An organization in the Star City known for helping children stay of out trouble and succeed has stopped all operation, causing parents to make other arrangements for after-school care.

All this stems from a building permit issue. Rumors on social media say the city shut The Hope Center down, however that's not the case.

City officials confirm they've made no action to close the building, but it was the director who decided it was best to lock the doors on Monday to make the necessary changes the city is requesting.

The Hope Center is usually a place of comfort and safety for many people, especially children. But now its are facing its own problems.

A few supporters gathered to paint a sign saying, "We Support Hope" asking for help to re-open the doors.

"I apologize to the parents and to the kids and everybody in the community that uses our services that we had to make the decision to close down for a while until we get everything straight. We are going to keep working and fighting to get done what needs to be done," said Grover Price, the executive director of The Hope Center.

Price said he closed the center in order to address zoning and building permit issues. Roanoke City officials say the building needs to add fire exits and other safety measures.

"With respect to the life-safety issues, that's really the issue and what we are working for. Once he's able to come up with a plan and make whatever modifications called for, that would get him back into compliance," explained Chris Chittum, the director of planning, building and development for the city of Roanoke.

Price said he has been working on a layout of the building that would eventually get approval from the city.

"This is what is showed and submitted, it has every footage and measurement, the doors, stage and bathroom. But to them, it's not good enough. What the problem is, this is from 1976. This the last CO that was ever issued to the building. They let this stuff go by for over 30 years and they putting it on us to fix it," said Price.

The city denied two of Prices floor plans, most recently on January 27. He was told to get an architect to help design a layout.

"We do everything is out-of-pocket. We don't have the funding from the city or state. We don't get any grants," said Price.

And the closure of The Hope Center is having an impact on other organizations in the community.

"The Hope Center has been that liaison that allows us to distribute food and things of that nature. And now we don't have that. And it's necessary for communities like this one," said Clifton Willis, the pastor of The Gathering Place.

Price said there is no timeframe on when he can make the modifications to the building. He's asking people to sign their name on the banner in front of the building to show support for The Hope Center.

Price added that he wants to resolve the situation quickly because they have kids still coming on the school bus to the center after school and they can not change their bus for the rest of the school year.