WHITE SPRINGS — A site visit workshop led into discussion of the old Carver School property and a new community center at last week’s White Springs Town Council meeting.
The Aug. 13 workshop at the old school, located on Mill Street was to help determine where the new community center would be built and for the community to be able to converse with both the council and the engineers on the project.
The wishes of the community led to the decision to build the new community center on the same site that the old Carver School was, once demolition of the old Carver School to be done by Hamilton County takes place, instead of on the neighboring lot that was initially planned.
Phil Bishop, with North Florida Professional Services which is the engineer on the project, spoke in the council’s meeting about exploring the possibility of making the community center structured so that it may double its purpose as a storm shelter.
Bishop advised that the price in doing so could range from $50,000 to $100,000, and he will notify the council with a closer estimate after he consults others and researches the specifications needed to do so.
Vice Mayor Walter McKenzie stated that some had requested some of the old Carver School be salvaged and used for a memorial to serve as a reminder of the town’s heritage, culture and history. He said if that is the plan it is essential to do so now, before the structure is demolished.
The council agreed to try and save part of the old school for that purpose.
The council also discussed declaring the Old Town Hall as a surplus property and the desired method of disposal, which had been discussed in prior meetings.
The discussion upset McKenzie and councilman Spencer Lofton, who said they believe the Old Town Hall would serve as a nice museum for the town.
Councilman Tom Moore, though, said he’d like to see the building used for economic development, either by renting it or leasing it to a business to help further develop the town.
Resident Robert Townsend said he was was appalled at the mere thought of declaring the building as surplus property, and pleaded for the council to fight against that idea.
Townsend, a former town manager of White Springs, said the Old Town Hall is the only building that is property of the town that the town originally built. The Old Town Hall was built in 1912, and served as a “seat of local government” for more than 80 years.
The building also contained a single man holding cell in the back portion of the building, which also housed the White Springs Police Department.
The Old Town Hall is listed as part of the National Historic District of the town, as well as being listed as one out of only 119 historic sites on the Florida Site File, Townsend said, adding that the town should look into obtaining grant funding to restore and renovate the building with that idea of a museum in mind — as has been attempted previously — than to sell or dispose of it as surplus property
Townsend reminded the council members of their own homes being of historic nature that they renovated and brought up to modern day restoration, and pleaded that since they saw the beauty in their own historic homes to renovate and restore them, that they consider doing the same for such an important piece of the town’s history.
No decision was made on the future of the Old Town Hall.