New community center could be coming to Jacksonville

Published on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 19:34 - Written by BY KELLY GOOCH kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Jacksonville could get a new community center.

Willie Howard, president of the Fred Douglass Alumni Association and the nonprofit Fred Douglass Community Development Corporation, said they plan to build the center in the Lincoln Park area.

Howard said the community center would help people become more self-sufficient and have programs for youth, children and adults.

Proposed services include career planning, tutoring, clothes closet, college preparation, senior activities and childcare, according to a letter from the Fred Douglass Community Development Corporation, which has a mission “to advance the social and economic well-being of individuals and families in Jacksonville, Texas and surrounding communities.”

Howard said the community center would be built on property that once housed Fred Douglass High School and would be open to the public. Currently, he said it is proposed to be 7,500 square feet and cost about $900,000. The goal is to start building the community center next summer.

In the meantime, the alumni association is going through the necessary steps to make the community center become a reality. The alumni association has requested a special use permit, which the city council is scheduled to address at Tuesday’s meeting.

If the city council gives approval for a special use permit, Howard said, survey work would need to be done, and the Fred Douglass group would engage an architect and contractor for the community center. He said they are already identifying sources for funding.

“One of the things we’re pushing (is that it) will create job opportunities, have programs … and just improve the quality of life,” Howard said.

According to an announcement from the group, plans for property in the Lincoln Park area also include “future residential development.”