Archer seeking to revive old gym

Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 12:26 a.m.
ARCHER - The City Commission has given the go-ahead for the city to apply for a grant from the state Division of Historical Resources that would be used to help refurbish an old gymnasium into a recreation center.
Applying for the grant is among several actions officials are planning to fund and design a recreation center on the five-acre plot that includes the old gym. Part of an old school building - the red-brick structure at the corner of Church Street and University Avenue - was built in 1936 and was acquired by the city in 1974, Commissioner Roberta Lopez said.
"In addition to having the building, we're looking at a swimming pool, we're looking at a small skate park, shuffle board, a walk path - recreation not only for our youths but for our adults as well," she said.
Lopez said the center is needed to provide options for children in the city, which has a declining population and the highest poverty rate in Alachua County.
"They have nothing to do," she said. "Absolutely not a thing to do in the summer except deal drugs and get into other mischievous conduct."
The state offers grants for historic preservation to cities, organizations and museums for projects such as restoration, archeological excavations and education projects, according to the Bureau of Historic Preservation Web site. Amounts for the different grants can range from $5,000 to $250,000.
On Monday night, commissioners unanimously approved to move forward with applying for the grant, but asked that the state bureau be contacted to find out the parameters by which the renovations could take place if a grant was awarded.
"When you get a historic preservation grant, there are very definite things you cannot do," Commissioner Roberta Hodges said at the meeting. "I'd like a copy of all that before we commit ourselves."
Officials are also looking into grant assistance from the state Department of Environmental Protection, which gives awards for land development and recreation. Lopez said she is hoping matching funds for the grants can be raised through corporate or individual contributions, rather than relying on city funds.
A committee working on the project collaborated with architects to create a model and preliminary blueprints for the recreation center. Lopez said officials will next concentrate on completing committee assignments, looking at structural design and on creating a master plan that would give projections on when the center could be finished.
Lopez said she hoped it could be built in two years.
Rachel Kipp can be reached at (352) 374-5086 or

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