Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

Lake City News

Lake City's Community Center Gets a Reprieve:
Is it its last?  

LAKE CITY, FL – Last night's Lake City, City Council meeting revolved around the Southside Community Center.  City Manager Wendell Johnson claimed the Community Center is nothing more than a daycare center for Summers Elementary School. City Councilman George Ward said the business of the City was paving streets. City Councilwoman Melinda Moses said, "I'm not convinced that it couldn't be a great place again." City Manager Johnson wants to use the Southside Community Center as a complex to house the City Utility Department.

In July of this year, Lake City, City Manager Wendell Johnson, in a last minute recommendation to the City Council, recommended that the Southside Community Center be declared as surplus to the City's Recreational Service and Facility needs. He asked that the Council authorize the building and adjoining grounds be used by the City's Water, Sewer, and Gas Departments for "occupancy and operational use."

Workshop scheduled to exclude families

At the August 6th City Council meeting the City Manager was looking for an immediate decision to close the Community Center. The Council discussed CM Johnson's request and put a decision on hold until it held a work shop. The Work Shop was last night at 5 pm, a time when families are just getting home from work and sitting down for dinner. No community members attended the work shop.

City Councilwoman Moses listens to CM Johnson. She was not convinced.

For a little over an hour and fifteen minutes the Council discussed the fate of Lake City's only Community Center. It was clear that City Manager Johnson wanted the Community Center to go away and be used for the City's Utility Department.

CM Johnson explained that the Community Center was primarily used for a day care center of Summers Elementary School. Johnson explained to the Council that, "We cannot compete with private enterprise." He said, "I'm going to look at it as a manager. The service can be provided at the Girl's Club. The best use is for the Utility Department."

The Girls Club excludes boys.

City Councilwoman Melinda Moses, usually a staunch supporter of the City Manager, was not convinced. She told the Council that the Community Center has been losing energy for a long time. She said it could be used, "but I don't know if we can bring it back up."

Councilwoman Moses said she didn't realize the Community Center had been neglected for so long. "I can’t believe we have this big facility and this is all we’ve done. I was really convinced about that [closing it] until I spoke to people." "I’m not convinced that it couldn’t be a great place again," she said.

"The business of the City is paving streets."

City Councilman George Ward opined that, "The business of the City is paving streets."

Councilman Ward looked to abandon the deliberative tradition of Lake City's City Council and move the decision to the immediately following City Council meeting.

Lake City's legendary City Attorney, Herbert Darby, told Councilman Ward the matter was too important and it would have to be on the agenda for the next meeting so the people would have a chance to comment.

City Manager Johnson said the closing of the Community Center was "The natural order of things."

He said he had been approached by a Commissioner [un-named] and that the County was looking to take over recreation.

The Community Center is only funded until January. The rest of the funding was put into the Utility Department.


City Councilwoman Moses is thinking. Councilman George Ward's mind was made up. Councilman Jefferson was silent, although after the meeting he told the Observer he would be thinking about it. Mayor Witt seemed to be in the Ward camp. Councilman Jake Hill told the Observer that he is not in favor of closing the Community Center and turning it into Utility Headquarters.

If Lake City's residents and the County residents that use the facility want to keep it, they will have their chance to voice their opinion to the City Council on October 15th.

One thing is for sure, once the Lake City Community Center goes away, it is never coming back.

Photo Credit: Lake City Community Center - Lake City photo

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.