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City asked to help house chamber

The Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce's building is crumbling, and the chamber hopes the city will help it find a new home.

The chamber is proposing that the city, which owns the chamber's headquarters at 8400 113th St., spend about $80,000 to renovate the vacant former library on Johnson Boulevard.

The former library is owned by Marjorie Johnson. Johnson said she would donate it to the city if Seminole renovates it and leases it to the chamber for $1 a year.

The chamber proposes that the city sell the 113th Street property to raise the renovation money.

"We're not asking the city to pay," chamber president-elect Tim Schuler said. "We're asking them to front the money for the renovations and sell the property (on 113th Street) for the money they advanced."

The City Council will discuss the chamber's proposal tonight.

The library renovation would require the city to provide a new roof, new carpet, interior and exterior paint, new air conditioning, construction of interior offices to the chamber's specifications and revamping of the restrooms.

The chamber would pay for wallpaper, computers, signs, office equipment and architectural services.

This would not be the first land deal between the city and the chamber.

In 1988, the chamber gave the city its former office next to the city tennis courts. Former Mayor Russell Stewart donated two lots on 113th Street to the city, requiring the city to buy a third lot and give the chamber a home.

A small building, now 30 years old and similar to a portable classroom, was donated, and the city paid to move it to the site.

The chamber approached the city in March about renovating that building. The repairs were expected to cost $15,000 to $20,000. The city found, however, that the building isn't worth the money to fix it up.

Mayor Dottie Reeder said Tuesday that, while she supports the work the chamber does, she wants to think about the proposal carefully.

She hesitates to sell any city land, she said, because there is not much vacant land left.

And, she said, the city has to be cautious about spending public money for a private organization.

The city is in the midst of a study on recreation programs, and many residents have said building a swimming pool is a top priority. What are those people going to say, Reeder said, if the city agrees to the chamber's plan, then rejects a pool?

"How are we going to say to them, "We don't have money to do recreation, but we can spend money for the chamber.' "

If you go

The City Council will have a work session on the chamber's proposal at 7 tonight at City Hall, 7464 Ridge Road. The public may attend the meeting but will not be allowed to participate.