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Lake City’s community center a hit

A dozen rental inquiries made before opening

Visitors socialize Saturday in the ballroom at Lake City's new community center. The city held an open house event where residents and community leaders could come and see the new building.

Visitors socialize Saturday in the ballroom at Lake City's new community center. The city held an open house event where residents and community leaders could come and see the new building.

— Mai Duong was tempted Saturday to break away from Vietnamese wedding traditions because of a building.

Duong, a 13-year resident of Lake City, marveled at the vaulted ceiling, elaborate chandeliers and large kitchen in the city’s new community center. Duong is preparing to get married later this year and she said she is interested in holding her engagement party at the center, which would be more than enough space to accommodate the 100 people she expects will attend the event.

Her cultural traditions complicate matters just a little bit, however.

“I’ll have to ask my father if it is OK,” she said. “Traditionally, the reception is held at the house of the bride’s family, but this is so nice and tempting.”

Duong was one of approximately 250 people who toured the community center this weekend during its open house, which was the public’s first opportunity to see the inside of the center.

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Curt Yeomans

Lake City volunteer Lisa Tillman (from left), residents Jack and Alice King and former resident Nancy Alford socialize Saturday on the porch of the city's new community center during an open house for the facility.

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Curt Yeomans

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson chats with Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt Saturday during an open house for the city's new community center.

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Curt Yeomans

Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt (left) gives a tour of the town's new community center Saturday to a visitor to the city. The city officially opened the new center to the public this weekend.

She is also one of 12 people already interested in holding events in the new center. Lake City officials are glad to see so many people already looking at holding events at the facility, but they admit it’s caught them a bit off-guard.

“We weren’t expecting to get this many inquiries already, so it puts us a little in front of the game,” said Ralph “Mac” McDuffie, the coordinator for the community center.

The $733,000 community center was the final piece of a puzzle for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax-funded facilities and recreation project which funded the created of the nature preserve, community center and a new maintenance storage building.

The city will be able to hold functions at the center, but it will also be available for rent as a venue for events such as birthday parties, anniversaries and wedding receptions.

“It’s not just good for Lake City,” said Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt. “It’s also good for the entire county.”

Right now, no one has booked the center for any functions, but that is because the city won’t officially begin taking reservations until Monday. McDuffie said the facility has a maximum capacity of 275 people. At 4,700-square feet in size, it’s also larger than the previously announced size of 3,700-square feet.

In addition to the ballroom, the community center also has restrooms and a kitchen which features a stove, cabinets, a refrigerator, a sink and counter space. It is also located in the city’s new nature preserve, so it is uphill from a lake and wetlands area.

“We have everything you would need in the community center and we have plenty of parking next door at city hall,” said McDuffie.

The center’s coordinator said renters must pay a $350 deposit and the daily rental fee of $350 for Lake City residents, and $500 for non-residents, to rent the facility.

Duong said the price is far better than most places she could consider for her engagement party.

“Other places that are this nice charge between $1,000 and $2,000 to rent them, so this is a really good bargain,” she said.

But, Lake City resident Alice King said her favorite feature of the new building is its porch. While the open house was taking place, a cool breeze continually blew across the front porch area where visitors socialized and city officials served punch and cookies.

“I could sit here all day,” said King.

Her husband, Jack King, said part of the reason for the center’s seemingly instant success is because people have seen it’s construction from Jonesboro Road, and so it piqued their interest.

King said he, personally, is so impressed with the inside of the center that he wants to get an opportunity to see what it’s like to attend a function there.

“I’d like to have a party here so I can see it in action,” he said.

People interested in renting the Lake City Community Center for an event should call McDuffie at 404-366-8080 to begin making a reservation.