By Rebecca Canfield
BERTRAM — Bertram residents will have a new place to gather together soon, as the Bertram community has just announced its new community center project.
Gene Taylor of Bertram Development Company stated that the project is still in its infancy, and is currently in the process of being approved. However, if all goes according to plan, the new community center is expected to be a 2,000-square-foot building with a kitchen and restrooms that the entire community can enjoy, Taylor said.
“We’re in the process of building a new building. It will be a community center for everyone to use. The church will get to use it, the seniors will get to use it and the Chamber of Commerce will get to use it. It will be a building for the whole city to use and enjoy,” Taylor explained.
The reason for the new community center is at least partially due to the sale of the building that previously housed Bertram’s senior center.
The senior center, which was located on Vaughn Street in downtown Bertram, is in the process of being sold by Bertram’s Economic Development Corp. (EDC) due to recent advice the EDC received from representatives from the State of Texas.
“The building was purchased for the purpose of the senior center. However, it came to the attention of the board that tax dollars had to be used for a community center, not a senior center,” stated Bertram City Secretary Georgina Hernandez. “We were told at that point that it had to be rented at fair market value or put up for sale. The City could have bought it and used it as a senior center, but the City did not have the funds to purchase it at fair market value, so the EDC’s choice at that time was to put it up for sale.”
Hernandez also explained that the EDC was told by officials that the Vaughn Street building would be too small to be a considered a community center. Pat Sons, one of the senior center’s organizers stated that the new building is projected to be twice the size of the old building.
Currently, the seniors are meeting at the annex building at the First Baptist Church in Bertram, until the details of the new community center are finalized, and the building process is able to begin.
Sons assured residents that senior center activities will continue as planned, just in a different location for now.
The seniors currently get together every Saturday at 5 p.m. for a potluck and games. Sons also said that anyone who is a senior is welcome to attend. They just need to bring a dish and get ready to have some fun.
“We like to have fellowship, play games, and we have a potluck supper,” Sons said. “We like to play forty-two, train, and joker.”
Taylor says that there is no date set for the finalization of the new building, because it is still in the planning stages, but once all the paperwork is approved, it shouldn’t take but a few months to get the building built.
The building, according to Sons, is expected to be located on a corner of the First Baptist Church’s property. She said the property will be leased from the church for a term of 25 years after which the community has the option of leasing the land again if they wish.
The existing building is reportedly being sold to a local pool company.