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New Lake City community center taking shape

Lake City officials expect to open the town's new community center this summer. The center is part of a $6.3 million improvement plan that also includes a new park, walking trails, a nature preserve and a new city maintenance facility.

Lake City officials expect to open the town's new community center this summer. The center is part of a $6.3 million improvement plan that also includes a new park, walking trails, a nature preserve and a new city maintenance facility.

Lake City’s new community center is still just an unfinished building that has all of its walls, but only half of a roof, in place. Still, that is not stopping residents from blowing up Mayor Willie Oswalt’s phone lines with requests to use the facility.

Oswalt said several residents have asked him if they can hold weddings and other social events at the center, which is not expected to open to the public until June.

“People are on us right now, asking when can they have their weddings,” the mayor said. “About five people have already mentioned having their wedding here, and the reception down on the lake [at a nature preserve which is located downhill from the center].”

The new community center is part of $6.3 million worth of related Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects that have been under way in the city since 2010. The other projects include a new city maintenance facility, and a new city park and nature preserve.

“This is all one big development,” said City Councilman Bobby Williams.

Oswalt said the 3,700-square-foot community center is costing approximately $730,000, by itself, to build. It is the last of the city’s related improvement projects to be built. The others were completed at various times over the past year. All of the projects, he said, have been built by the Georgia Developmental Authority.

The most recently completed part of the overall project was the new city park where the community center will be located. City officials said the park, which includes three walking trails, a wetlands and a nature preserve, opened last fall.

“People are really beginning to use the trails now,” said Oswalt, minutes after he encountered a pair of Lake City residents walking on one of the trails. Just as other residents had already done, the walkers quickly begin quizzing the mayor about how soon it would be before they could begin attending events at the community center.

“It won’t be too much longer,” Oswalt told the residents.

Construction crews are in the process of raising the roof on this final piece of a puzzle designed to improve the quality of life in Lake City. Roof tresses went up this week on the facility, which is located next to the Lake City Municipal Hall. Plywood has already been nailed to the exterior wall frames for the building, enabling people who view the building to have an idea of what it will look like when it is finished.

Plywood is expected to be attached to the roof tresses within the next few weeks, according to Oswalt. “That’s when it will be what we call ‘dried in,’” the mayor said.

Once the building is finished, it will have a large, main room — where social events can be held — and a smaller storage room. City officials said the new center will be larger than the town’s old 2,600-square-foot community center, which was torn down in late 2010, to make room for the city’s new maintenance facility.

Williams said he believes it is “real important” for the city to have a community center again, after a year-and-a-half gap without such a facility. “It will be a focal point for the city, and the people who use it,” he said. “It adds a lot to our park here, and it’s going to be fantastic for everyone.”

Oswalt said the city is still several months from beginning to take reservations for use of the center. “We’ll probably wait until it’s completed, or getting there abouts, before we do that,” he said.