Proposed community center ideas shared

Dozens of people attend a meeting about the proposed Bransford Community Center in Springfield, TN. (photo: Justin Darden)

Residents and community leaders in Springfield, Tenn. came together to listen to ideas and give input on a proposed community center that would serve all of the city’s residents, including at-risk children at a local library on July 19.

The meeting, sponsored by the Bransford Community Center Board, was held at the Stokes Brown Public Library in Springfield in which the public was invited to see the proposed community center building designs by Lose Designs, the architect firm hired by the city of Springfield. The purpose of the meeting was to give residents an opportunity to share their ideas on what they would like to see in the community center.

According to Carolyn Woodard, member of the Bransford Community Center Board, the goal of the meeting was to get input from residents on what they would like to see inside and outside the community center, which would be located on the grounds of the original Bransford High School. She also said the proposed center would be something new and different for Springfield residents.

“We want something fresh and new. We want programs that benefit the youth and seniors. We want a diverse center,” said Woodard.

Rev. Robert Gardner, president of the Greater Faith Community Action Corp., said he organized the meeting to give residents at the well-attended meeting an opportunity to “weigh in on the center.” Gardner is pastor of the City of Faith Church in Springfield. He said it was not difficult for the Community Center Board and the city to come together on the project because it had been an ongoing process since the demolishment of the original Community Center. Feedback to the proposed community center was very positive.

“Very positive,” said Rev. Gardner. A lot of interest. A lot of questions, of course, questions concerning funding and operations, things like that, which you would expect. People are excited about it and want to see it happen, and soon.”

Gardner said there were not many ideas presented for a community center that would get people’s attention, and the only suggestions residents expressed were for a basketball court, a gymnasium, softball area, and a community garden. He said that was not surprising because the original Bransford Youth Center had a community garden. The old community center had required one-half of the facility to be used for after-school and summer programs, but the new facility will allow more programs and make facilities more available to the public.

Gardner pointed out that the people of Springfield were being allowed to decide what they would like to see in the facility instead of just allowing a contracting company to come in and decide what was needed in the new building. An indoor gymnasium with a basketball court was the most requested facility. Residents also wanted an after-school facility program for youth and kids. Gardner said the response to the community center meeting was overwhelming.

According to the Bransford Community Center program guide, the development of the center would likely be a public-private partnership between the city of Springfield, Bransford Community Center Board, and other private corporate donors.