THOMASVILLE — A discussion of the future for Thomasville City Council meetings and the former police station on West Guilford Street provided new insight on what may be in store for the city’s facilities.
The 19,000-square-foot former Thomasville City Hall building at 7 W. Guilford St. was again a focus of council members at the city’s annual budget retreat for a second straight year. Once the home to city council meetings, the old police station gave way to the Ball Park Community Center this year.
City Manager Michael Brandt walked council members through the series of events that occurred over the course of a year regarding the meetings and venue.
“From the discussion last year, what was decided was to investigate whether we could have meetings in other locations,” Brandt said. “You all identified Ball Park Community Center as the location for that potential space, and then of course, the pandemic hit.”
The pandemic expedited the process of moving meetings to Ball Park and the council to a raised dais inside the location.
A search for a more permanent location is ongoing. The current police department on West Main Street doesn’t have room for a permanent council chambers, so ideas of the city’s recreation center, community center or the yet-to-be-constructed aquatic center housing meetings have been discussed.
An adjustment to the proposed building would have to be made, but the idea has received hypothetical support of several council members and staff. City Councilman Scott Styers expressed his support of the idea and drew the attention of his fellow council members to the importance of having a fixed place for meetings in a formal setting.
“I really like that idea a lot,” Styers said. “I really, strongly believe that the environment of our old council chambers was really important. I think it had enough gravity and formality to it that it sets the tone for the nature of the meetings.”
In other municipal government meetings, Styers said proceedings are often disrupted by informalities he hopes can be avoided at future council meetings. He acknowledged that rarely happened in council chambers at the police station.
The police station is in a National Historic District and designated as a local historic landmark. As most other buildings its age, the police station has deteriorated over the last 80 years.
Councilman Joe Leonard suggested that, sooner or later, restoration of the old building is inevitable. A heating system is a necessary addition to the PD building, Leonard said.
Questions of whether possible buyers for the building can be found have been raised. Former City Manager Kelly Craver said at last year’s retreat that certain groups have made inquiries on renting the facility, but its lack of ADA accessibility and heat have been deterrents.
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.