Council disagrees on community center study

Published 1:20 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brewton City Council members voted Tuesday to approve a feasibility study for a new community center at the old Brewton Middle School — but not without some disagreement on the issue.

Councilman Joe Watson asked fellow council members for $2,495 to pay architect McKee and Associates to do a study and plan on the ability to turn the school into a community center once it is vacated this summer.

“He’s going to give us an idea of what we’re looking at,” Watson said. “This study will benefit everybody.”

McKee and Associates, the same architect who drew the plans for the new middle school, has proposed inspecting the property and preparing reports on its condition, the feasibility of the center and floor and site plans.

City officials did not disagree about the community center itself, but about the timing of the study.

But Mayor Ted Jennings, who voted against doing the study, argued that a feasibility study could wait until the school is vacated.

“I don’t think you can do a study until they get out of the school,” he said.

Jennings also said the city would have to do a study to determine how much it will cost the city to maintain the building after the school board vacates the property, because it will revert back to the city’s control.

“We have to pick up the insurance,” he said. “I was planning to have that cost put in next year’s budget. We have fiduciary and liability responsibilities.”

Jennings said he would worry about an organization taking over the building if it could not come up with the $2,500 for a feasibility study.

Frank Cotten, who also voted against doing the study, said he supports the community center but wants to wait until a more appropriate time for architects to look at the building.

“I’m not against the money,” he said. “I would vote for the $2,500 for what you’re asking, but let’s think about procedure. The council will support it, but we should hold this off for a few more months.”

Councilman Fred Barton suggested tabling the issue, but later voted for the study. Watson and Councilman Cary Barton also voted for the study.

Councilman Dennis Dunaway was absent.