Village discussing future of community center

St. Joseph is trying to decide what to do with its community center.
The village purchased a building located at 306 Meadow Drive for use as a community center.
The building is 8,000 sq. feet.

The building was purchased for $100,000 with the Woodard family donating the remaining cost of the building.
At the time of the purchase, Mayor B.J. Hackler said the building needed lots of work including bringing it up to ADA code, improving the sprinkler system, restrooms and kitchen.  Hackler said parking would also have to be addressed.
Hackler said a local business person was interested in leasing part of the building from the village for their business. The village would retain 2,500 sq. feet of the building for use for community events.

Currently, the village is working to remodel the part of the building which formerly housed a laundromat.
Trustee Tami Fruhling-Voges said she thought any remodeling work should be halted until the village decided what exactly the space would be used for.

"Why are we doing anything before we know what we are going to do with the space," she said.
Fruhling-Voges said she thought the best situation for the village would be to sell the building and put the money into a community building that would be functional for the village.
"If someone can make great use out of that building—that makes more sense," she said.
Some trustees were concerned with the perception the public may have if the village sells or leases the building. Fruhling-Voges said she didn't feel the public supported the idea of that building as the St. Joseph Community Center.
"Community members have told me this is the wrong space," she said.
She said she felt the decision was rushed earlier this year and the board was not on the same page regarding the future use of the village.
Trustee Tony Spurlock said the village had to move quickly to recognize the gift the Woodard family was giving the village but now they needed to evaluate the best use of the building.

"We need to look at all our options," he said.
Trustee Bob Rigdon said a lot of money would have to be spent to make the building useful for the village.
The board discussed whether the village had an obligation to the Woodard family to use that building as the community center.
Spurlock said he felt if the building was sold or leased and the future Community Center was named after the Woodards that would cover any obligation the village had to the family.

'If we can put money into a community center and honor the Woodards why would we take on the risk of being landlords," he said.
Trustee Aric Silver said he was not sure leasing the building was in the best interest of the village.
"We are not in the business of being landlords," he said. 'We are in the business of governing a community."
Fruhling-Voges said she felt an obligation to honor the Woodard family but also felt an obligation to provide the residents with a Community Center they would use.

"We need to look at it and really decide if it is what we need for a community building," she said. "I am concerned people will not use it."
The village decided to address the issue further at a future meeting.


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