Now money will be the talking point regarding the Summerfield Information Center in Lakewood Ranch.
If money were no obstacle, supervisors on Lakewood Ranch community development districts would transform the Summerfield Information Center into a new community center.
Potential uses would include club meetings, county programming for senior adults, middle school drug prevention programs, health and wellness classes, tutoring/homework groups and even a lending library with library programing, a courier service for book drop off/pick up and book clubs.
“Great communities don’t come by luck,” CDD Supervisor Mike Finney said. “They come by people doing things to enhance them.”
Ad hoc committee of supervisors from CDDs 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 have been meeting for more than a year to discuss what might become of the Summerfield Information Center, Lakewood Ranch’s original Town Hall and most recently a sales center for Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch. It vacated the property to open a new sales center off farther north and Lakewood Ranch Community Activities Corp., which was housed there, will be out of the building by the end of the month.
CDD supervisors have raised concerns about the cost of purchasing and maintaining the information center, at 6310 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Lakewood Ranch. And until their meeting Monday, they did not have a clear vision for how they could use the property.
Representatives of three of five districts believe their boards will not support spending money on the community center, however they agreed to have Lakewood Ranch Town Hall Executive Director Anne Ross talk to Schroeder-Manatee Ranch officials about potential costs to purchase the building, valued at more than $460,000 by the Manatee County Property Appraiser. They want SMR to donate the building or general purchase price so they can present the information to their boards for consideration. As proposed, all five districts would share in the purchase, renovation and maintenance of the property.
“Once we make a commitment, this is an ongoing commitment,” CDD 4 Supervisor Nancy Johnson said.
Estimates show resident assessments would increase up to about $24.60 per household, if purchased at $400,000.
Several members of the community attended the meeting, including Country Club resident and Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh and Esplanade resident Carolyn Lowry-Nation. Both want to see the districts purchase the center.
Lowry-Nation, leader of the Gardeners Out East Club, has pledged a financial donation of more than $1,000 as a way to show support for the project. “I can see this as temporary library,” she said.
“I think it could be a great asset,” she said. “We need to look to the future.”