Mayor Winifred Murphy wants to reopen Community Center

By Chase Jordan -

Garland Commissioners discuss town matters during a monthly meeting.

GARLAND — Mayor Winifred Murphy has a vision that commissioners aren’t quite seeing.

Murphy shared her thoughts to reopen the doors of the town community center with town commissioners during a recent meeting, but they expressed they don’t share the same feelings.

Murphy brought up matters regarding the abandoned building with her colleagues at last week’s meeting. While speaking about the center, she didn’t request an official vote to reopen the building, but she was intrigued to know the commissioners’ vision and plans for the structure.

“Tell me what the plans are,” Murphy said. “In the future, do you plan to reopen it?”

Commissioner Ralph Smith expressed that he believes money should go towards other buildings and projects in Garland before being put into the community center. Some of the other commissioners said they feel the same way when it comes to improving existing facilities such as the senior center.

“One day we will reopen it,” said Commissioner Carolyn Melvin after being asked about her vision. “But I was in the senior building and it does need a lot.”

Murphy continued to stress her point regarding the building, which can be used for community gatherings, if it’s reopened.

“I don’t think anyone denies that the senior center needs a lot of work,” Murphy said. “This town also needs a lot work. I just want to know what the vision is for that building.”

As a way to fund the building, Murphy mentioned private donations and a fundraising could be a financial source for it. In addition, the mayor mentioned how it could be a place where people could have jobs or be used by other seniors.

Melvin indicated that she was in favor of using money from an outside source to fix the building, but she believes money left in the town’s pot should go towards the facilities already open.

“The money we have right now should be spent on the buildings that are in use,” Melvin said. “If someone wants to give us the money to fix it and open it, we would be crazy not to take it.”

Smith also added that a lot of people who live outside of the town would like to see improvements on the town’s ball fields. Previously, commissioners discussed starting softball teams in the town.

“I would my self, but my first obligation is to the taxpayers and the citizens in the town of Garland,” Smith said.

For those people outside the limits of Garland, Smith suggested that they visit their Sampson County representative to help with funding such projects.

“We get nothing from the county,” Smith said about the town. “Just like the sheriff’s department, we pay them for services. We need some help on our buildings and recreation department. That’s county money and that’s where the county citizens should go ‘hey, you need to help Garland out.’ ”

If the building was to reopen, Commissioner S.J. Smith questioned where funding for the ongoing upkeep of the building would come from. Some of the costs mentioned included bills and insurance.

“Who’s going to keep that up?,” the commissioner questioned.

Ralph Smith said he believes repairs to the building may cost the town between $15,000 and $20,000.

As of mid-November, a date for further discussion, plans for reconstruction or fundraising opportunities has not been established.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

By Chase Jordan

Garland Commissioners discuss town matters during a monthly meeting. Commissioners discuss town matters during a monthly meeting.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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