MASARYKTOWN — First there were the unavoidable expenses: monthly water and sewer bill; taxes, insurance, electricity and basic maintenance; required annual water tank inspection.
Then there are the long-needed but also long-unaffordable projects at the Masaryktown Community Center: resealing and re-lining the parking lot and basketball court — $10,000; adding kitchen sprinklers, upgrading the exhaust system, replacing air conditioning compressor, stripping and sealing indoor flooring — $8,000; replacing stolen swings — $260.
Also on the center's wish list for years: upgrading paneling and relocating historic museum and library to front entryway.
To get enough money to tackle these jobs and pay these expenses, the community center association recently sold a 1.7-acre lot it owned on U.S. 41 for $95,000.
Unanimous approval of a zoning change to neighborhood commercial on Aug. 18 by the Hernando County Commission cleared the way for Hufstetler Properties LLP and Teramore Development LLC of Thomasville, Ga., to buy the property. It plans to build a Dollar General store on the site.
The rezoning was first recommended by the county planning and zoning staff but turned down by the Planning and Zoning Commission because of traffic concerns voiced by four nearby residents. In presenting the proposal to the County Commission, more than 20 residents appeared in support and some 300 had signed a petition of endorsement.
The developer also agreed to widen a rear buffer facing residents on Roosevelt Street, to maintain a retention area, to upgrade Wilson Boulevard and to install sidewalks if requested.
"You couldn't ask for a better buyer," said the association's vice president, Larry Dodson. "They bent over backwards to please the people … I think the community will respond positively."
Josh Hufstetler, project coordinator, recently estimated that the store will open in several months.
Back at the community center, vice president Dodson said that great progress has been made on the association's job list:
Work on the parking lot is complete and workers are getting close on most of the interior improvements.
"The facilities are all being redone. That's the only way to put it," he said.
The group has been able to pay it's regular bills, he said. Also, the association still owns two plots of land, which is more than enough to expand the center, parking area and playgrounds if needed.
Beth Gray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.