|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Jacksonville backs long-awaited Community Center

    The City Council approves a 50-year, $1 annual lease for the Main Street lot
  • JACKSONVILLE — A long-planned Community Center took a big step forward Tuesday when the City Council unanimously approved a 50-year, $1 per annum lease and a lot-line adjustment for city property that will house the center.
    • email print
  • JACKSONVILLE — A long-planned Community Center took a big step forward Tuesday when the City Council unanimously approved a 50-year, $1 per annum lease and a lot-line adjustment for city property that will house the center.
    "This has been 15 years in the making," said Jeanena Whitewilson, vice president of the Community Center board, which requested the action. "We are very excited."
    Jacksonville Senior Center Inc. has raised $140,000 through its thrift shop for the project over 20 years. The Community Center has raised another $60,000. Grants will be sought to raise additional funds.
    A center of up to 6,000 square feet will be built on an enlarged lot on Main Street where the city-owned, 800-square-foot Sampson House serves as the current community center. City offices are located in the Miller House on adjacent property, which would be reduced in size.
    "The number one reason it's a good project is because of the community involvement," Councilman Criss Garcia said Wednesday. "There's 16 years of investments in the project, and careful planning and capital investments are sure to make it a success."
    The lot-line adjustment and 50-year lease represent a significant investment the city is making to create a desirable community, Garcia said.
    "I see a lot of benefits, including diversity and an ongoing development of a community character through the center," said Garcia.
    Under provisions of the lease, the center will have up to five years to complete the structure or the contract will be canceled.
    "Our next step is to do the survey of the lot line and do outreach to the next generation," Whitewilson said.
    A survey of town residents produced 265 suggestions of features that people would like to see in the center, she said. Seven groups meet in the Sampson House.
    "What we are looking at is a large facility, one that is energy-efficient, for multigenerational, multipurpose uses," Whitewilson said.
    Young mothers and parents of elementary-aged students would like to have more activities in the town.
    "Right now, as soon as school is out, mothers and grandparents pick up the kids and off they go to other towns for music and dance lessons," Whitewilson said.
    A commercial kitchen is planned for the facility, which would allow the space to be rented for reunions, events and wedding receptions for up to 150 people. Individuals and companies could prepare items in the kitchen for local farmers markets and stores. A Food and Friends meals program might also use the space.
    In a town concerned about preserving older structures, the Sampson House meets three criteria that will allow it to be torn down to make way for a bigger structure, Whitewilson said.
    Conceptual plans for a center have been completed, but detailed plans will be required. A potential move of city offices from the Miller House would be considered in deciding whether the building would face Main Street or South Fourth Street, Whitewilson said.
    No cost figure has been put on the project yet.
    "There's so many people out there looking for grants. So many are just using in-kind for matching funds," Whitewilson said. "We actually have cash for matching funds. We think we have a good chance to bump up to the top."
    Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.
Reader Reaction
      • calendar