The Valparaiso City Commission voted unanimously to reopen the Valparaiso Community Center. The decision ends a month-long odyssey to determine the fate of the community center and an almost two-year closure of the facility.
The building will open on Monday morning to the public.
The commission also voted unanimously to add a donation option to the water bill so that donations for the community center can be made on the water bill.
A COMMUNITY FOR THE CENTER.
75 people packed the small chambers of the Valparaiso Commission Hall for one thing on Valentine’s Day: to discuss the fate of the Valparaiso Community Center.
The center, which is also called the Valparaiso Senior Center, became a third rail for politics in Valparaiso after the January commission meeting.
In that meeting, Mayor Brent Smith said that the building should be “razed.” His statement angered many citizens – about 100 of which rallied together on January 31st to organize support for the building. Many of the people who attended the meeting on the 31st attended the February 14th commission meeting to support the building’s preservation.
Mayor Smith responded to the angry citizens with an apology for his previous statement about the Valparaiso Community Center. “I was addressed that the building needed to be torn down – and that was not the truth. So I did say that in a public meeting. That was the information that I was given, so I apologize for that,” Smith said.
Jerry Spence offered his services for free to inspect the damage and see what the situation with the 100-year-old building was.
Spence’s report, as he summarized it to the commission, painted a picture of a sturdy building constructed of heart pine with some cosmetic issues and problems with a leaky roof.
A couple of years ago – according to the commission – an individual donated $8,000 to repair the roof. That money sits in the Valparaiso City coffers, unused.
The total cost of repairing the roof, estimated at $23,500, was prohibitive in the past. This is according to Mayor Smith, who weighed in on the situation multiple times while the topic was on the table.
Mayor Smith reported to the commission that two business people in the community said they would donate $20,000 a piece for upkeep of the building – provided citizens also make donations.