White Hall has been planning for years to construct a community center, and the time has come for the serious planning to begin, the Advertising and Promotion Commission decided last week.

White Hall has been planning for years to construct a community center, and the time has come for the serious planning to begin, the Advertising and Promotion Commission decided last week.

Commissioners took two steps May 22 at the request of Mayor Noel Foster:

» Authorized Foster to inquire about the cost of municipal bonds being used to complete the project rather than building center in phases;

» Authorizing the clearing of the proposed site on the southeast corner of the intersection of Dollarway and Hoadley roads.

The 2 percent tax on prepared foods and motel rentals has generated $3.34 million pledged for the center, with the fund growing an average of $24,000 a month, Foster told commissioners.

In the past officials have discussed building the center in phases as the money becomes available.

Foster noted that interest rates for municipal bonds are currently low and the city may be able to save on construction costs by building the center now, rather than in phases.

Rising construction costs will “just eat us up,” Commissioner Ken Smith noted.

The site work is necessary, Foster added, for architects and engineers to get a better idea of the topography of the 50 or so acres the city has acquired over a number of years. He estimated the sale of timber off the corner would generate $20,000.

While city employees have the expertise to clear the acreage needed for the building, parking and exterior recreational facilities, they lack the equipment, the mayor said, adding he hopes Jefferson County government can make the equipment available.

“We will only cut what we need to cut,” he emphasized.

“It was a dream when I ran for mayor 20 years ago,” James “Jitters” Morgan, commission chairman and former mayor, acknowledged. “It won’t be an overnight thing.”

“We must be careful what we put in it (the center),” Foster said. “It must be functional and useable.”

The survey indicated White Hall residents would support non-residents using the facilities by paying fees. A majority of those surveyed said they would pay a reasonable fee for use of the center’s facilities.

An indoor walking track, multipurpose gym and meeting rooms with a small kitchen rated high on the survey.

A swimming pool and splash pad also won a large number of votes on the survey.

Foster encourage commissioners to take a look at other community centers in the state to collect ideas. “We’ve got to learn what we can afford,” he added.

White Hall’s parks are a major draw, he noted in comments before the City Council recently, and a new civic center would also be a major attraction.