MARTIN — Residents of Martin may see a return of the community center soon, following a unanimous vote in favor of renewing a lease with the county for the building.
During Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, Mayor Sam Howell presented the council with some estimated figures on the community center’s operating expenses, and then once again asked that they vote to allow him to sign a new lease with the county.
The matter was not addressed without significant discussion, as council members Mahendra Varia and April Gayheart continued to question the city’s ability to afford to operate the center. “If that makes us spend money from the city account, then how much are we going to spend, what is our limit, how much can we afford? Do we have enough money?”
Mayor Howell told the council that he believes the city has enough money, and he plans to control the expenses of the community center going forward.
Gayheart said she wanted some measure put into the lease that would allow the city to walk away if it was found to be financially cumbersome.
Howell said the county clerk, who also maintains an office in the building, would help out with some of the utility expense.
Gayheart and Howell also mentioned there were some safety issues with the floor in the community center that needed to be addressed. Bobby Dingus said he believed that the community had enough vested interest in the center that a lot of work could be accomplished by volunteers.
A motion to renew the lease was made by Bobby Dingus and seconded by James Reynolds. After pausing for a moment when Gayheart asked to think about her decision, the vote was unanimous.
Varia conceded that the center was indeed good for the community, but his assent to renew the lease came with more questions. “We are running in debt in other departments, so how are we to come up with the money?” Varia asked.
Howell says he believes the center can generate enough revenue through rentals and an agreement with the Floyd County Housing Authority to cover the costs.
The Floyd County Fiscal Court will convene a special called meeting this Friday, and among the topics to be discussed is approving a new lease for the Community Center. The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m.