White Hall’s Advertising and Promotion Commission took the necessary steps May 22 on the long planned community center, authorizing Mayor Noel Foster to take two important steps in making the center a reality.
Foster’s recommendation that city crews, with some help from county government, clean off the city-owned site south and east of Dollarway and Hoadley roads was unanimously by the commission.
While the sale of timber on the tract will generate some revenue, Foster said the real benefit from the clearing will let the architect and engineers “see what they have to work with.”
Foster also received approval to study the possibility of using municipal bonds to help pay for some construction costs, rather can building the center in phases. He cited the current low interest rates on bonds.
The city has some $3.34 million earmarked for the center generated from the 2 percent tax on prepared food and motel rentals. The tax generates an average of $24,000 a month.
A portion of the monthly revenues could be used to retire bonded indebtedness and the balance to pay for operating costs.
A third element — the results of a city-wide mail and online opinion survey — became available hours before last Tuesday’s meeting. The 561 responses, which represent a return rate of 23 percent, will provide commissioners with the answers to a number of questions that must be answered before the architect begins to develop plans, including fees for maintenance and upkeep, allowing non-residents to pay a fee for use of the center, the type of aquatic features, the number of meeting rooms and other amenities.
The opinion survey will give commissioners plenty to think about in coming weeks. The members will likely be meeting more often as the planning is finalized.
If construction starts in early 2013, some decisions must be made soon at the commission and City Council levels.