LEDC should take center

Published 10:21 am Tuesday, August 23, 2016

For decades, the Chesapeake Community Center, housed in an aging building owned by Chesapeake schools, has played a vital role in that neighborhood from offering youth activities to a food pantry that feeds thousands of families and senior citizens each year.

This summer, the center increased its outreach by creating a community garden where village residents could plant and tend their own vegetables, adding more food to their tables.

That’s why the center’s board was shocked when it received a letter from the school’s attorney that the center had to vacate the property by May of 2017, when the lease is up.

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If the center’s board wanted to keep the status quo, it could come up with $250,000 to purchase the structure.

That prompted a recent meeting of the county commissioners and school board in executive session with a crowd of center supporters waiting outside for some sign of hope.

They think they got it when it was announced that ownership would be transferred. However, it wasn’t made clear who the new owners would be, but at least one commissioner said he hoped it would be with the county in some form.

A noble and generous thought. However, massively impractical. Even if the school board gave the county the building, there are still the huge utility and insurance costs that have strangled the center’s board for years.

If the county can’t afford to build a jail, or move inmates down to the one offered by the state in Franklin Furnace, how can it manage a building that dates back to the 1920s?

A better solution would be for the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, that has far more resources, to step up and take over the building.

Why anyone would want to send the county into a financial spiral is beyond comprehension.