Save the Historic City Island Recreation Center!
The City Commission agreed to begin the process of designating the Rec a local historic landmark, and the Historic Preservation Board has voted in favor of the designation. Due to it's location in the Downtown Community Reinvestment Area, it went before the Downtown Redevelopment Board for their consideration and emerged with a tie vote. From there, the designation request goes to the Planning Board July 28th , and finally, back to the City Commission. Meanwhile, a small, diverse group appointed by the Mayor and Commissioners has been charged with envisioning a new life for the Rec Center and identifying potential funds to support the suggested changes. They presented the results of their efforts in a workshop for the Commission on September 7th. The Commissioners were unanimous in supporting the mix of learning, dining and events spaces the Committee described and illustrated. The vote to designate the site historic is expected to come before the Commission on 9/21/22. Come and speak in support!
● The Rec Center was built in 1943, primarily with funds from the Federal Works Administration (FWA), to serve as a dance hall for the many military personnel stationed here during WWII. It was the only building in Florida built for this purpose; it is unique. The City Commission voted to fund the stucco finish and a stronger roof so the building could serve the community long after the war. The building was actively used for community events, meetings, and classes until 2012, when the city closed the building. Since its closure, it hasn't been maintained in a manner appropriate for any municipal property, let alone an historic property.
● In 2017, the city prepared a report on The Rec Center saying the cost to functionally restore it would be $140,500 while the cost to demolish it would be $95,000. Saving The Rec Center would only cost $45,500 more than destroying it. The report also said there was no reason to save the building because no one was using it. How can people use it when it’s closed? In July 2018, when the Commission made murmurs of salvation for the building, the City Manager immediately insisted that the 2017 report was too old and needed to be updated.
● A new study was done by city staff in 2018. Interestingly, in this new report, the cost to functionally restore rose to $208,894 and the cost to demolish fell to $42,090. The new cost difference to save the building rose to $166,804. Post-hurricane insurance reports done in early 2018 state that the foundation is sound, except for normal settling and that there was no damage to the building due to the most recent hurricanes. They cite the damage is due to age AND NEGLECT.
● Did the Commission read these insurance reports before they decided to hire an outside consultant to price the true cost to functionally restore The Rec Center? There are many questions about the consultant’s estimated price tag of repairs - they proposed a Rolls Royce renovation when a nice sedan is all that's needed – but even they state: “Despite the age of the facility and recent water infiltration the structure is in relatively good condition. The materials used in the original construction are not readily available today and have proven to be generally durable and effective.”
● The Rec Center is a valuable city asset. Prior to its closure the city operated that building and it was well used by the community. Now that we know more about its true origins, there is an even greater reason to restore that building to again be an active part of our community. Civic pride is built on civic history, best learned in historic buildings. Keeping history vivid and alive means keeping historic places vital and active.
● There are any number of ways the Rec Center could become a popular destination, bringing more business to Beach Street. One possibility is to house a satellite location of the Veteran's Museum offering a WWII-themed display. The display could include not just memorabilia of the time, but could tell the story of how WWII federal defense spending literally saved the City's tourist-based economy from catastrophe. Another possible use is a small bistro that offers a space for rest and reflection for visitors to the nearby Veterans Memorial Plaza and the adjacent Founding Documents Memorial. Together, the Rec Center, Plaza and Documents would create a veteran-centered experience adjacent to the natural beauty of the Esplanade and would offer another reason for visitors to extend their time in Daytona Beach.
A city which does not value its past has no future.
Let our City Commissioners know
the City Island Rec Center is worth saving!
Derrick Henry, Mayor firstname.lastname@example.org (386) 671-8007
Ken Strickland, Zone 2 email@example.com (386) 671-8002
Paula Reed, Zone 4 firstname.lastname@example.org (386) 671-8004
Stacy Cantu, Zone 6 email@example.com (386) 671-8006