The city of Valparaiso could demolish a center for the elderly marked a historical monument
VALPARAISO, Fla. (WKRG) – The Valparaiso Community Building is considered a historic landmark in the city. It’s actually a former Eglin Air Force Base school that was built in 1921.
The structure houses the senior center and other public events. It was closed when the COVID-19 pandemic started.
After renovations in 2004 and more recently new bathrooms, Mayor Brent Smith said they needed to stop spending money fixing it and use the land for something else.
“I don’t think we have the senior activity there,” Smith said.
At a meeting in January, the city commission decided to hire an inspector to see if the building was worth keeping. Smith said very few people come to the center and the county will provide shuttles to transport residents to the Niceville senior center.
“The problem with the Niceville senior center is that they have to pay if they don’t live in Niceville,” Valparaiso senior center director Thomas Jackley said. Jackley has been in charge of the center for 11 years and he said the senior center is small but mighty.
Jackley doesn’t want to see the center disappear: “There aren’t so many historic buildings in this town anymore. They demolished most of them. And we would like to see them keep this building,” he said.
Community members are hosting a “save the center” committee meeting on January 31 to discuss their options. Jackley said if it was all about the money, they had it.
“700 seniors live in Valparaiso and we believe we have enough people to pay,” Jackley said. “We have a person who said they would pay for the repairs.”
According to Jackley, the inspector should be here later this week to say exactly what repairs would be needed to bring the building up to standard. The city is due to meet again on February 14 to decide the fate of the building.