Future of Garland Community Center unknown

During a special meeting, Garland Commissioners discussed building improvements throughout town.

GARLAND — Commissioners recently made a decision to board up the town’s community center.

Now, Mayor Winifred Murphy is concerned that the decision may have added another hurdle when it comes to people having a place to meet.

The vote was made during a recent special meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Haywood Johnson, Commissioner Denise Toler and Commissioner S.J. Smith unanimously agreed to board up 21 windows with plywood in the community center. The total cost for the task is $1,800.

“We have no place for citizens to meet or host community activities,” Murphy said. “Citizens are encouraged to talk with their commissioners and get involved to improve our town.”

Murphy said the old Head Start building in front of a vacant school was once being used to host community meetings and cultural art activities. But safety regulations and code required the town to conduct required repairs and resulted in the commission making a vote to close the facility. One major need was a fire-rated door with a price tag of $5,000.

“When we had it opened, we had an art exhibit, a book signing, various cultural activities as well as our NC STEP meetings,” Murphy said about hosting large crowds.

In the meantime, the building was vandalized. According to town officials, 10 windows have been damaged. Murphy said the windows should be boarded up to avoid more damage, but she believes the money can be used towards keeping it open.

“But they are recommending to board up all the windows,” she said. “My concern is that we need to try to get that building open for our citizens, rather than boarding up the building.”

The building has been closed for about a year and a half. Murphy believes it would cost about $9,000 to have it reopened.

“We need to make sure that we have available services for our citizens,” Murphy said while discussing her vision to see the building occupied. “Moving forward, we need to do everything we can to get that building reopened.”

Currently, Murphy said several churches who charge are renting out spaces for events. The Garland Senior Center on West Third Street has been rented out for birthday parties and similar events.