Hurst: Please help save Thelma Boltin Center

Letter to the editor

We are asking the City to repair and reopen the Historic Thelma Boltin Recreation Center (new roof, fix some trusses, Repair AC, $450,000). We do not want the “Partial Restoration” (demolish all but two walls and replace with larger building, $5.6 million). We are asking them to change their prior vote from “Partial Restoration” (Demolition) to “Repair & Reopen.”

If you share our concerns, please email our city commissioners at citycomm@gainesvillefl.gov and county commissioners at bocc@alachuacounty.us. Brief messages are good – the subject line is important.

Please speak at the joint City Commission/County Commission meeting on Monday, August 28, at 3 p.m. at the Alachua County Administrative Building. The Thelma Boltin Center will be discussed along with gun violence prevention and funding for the GRACE homeless center. It now second on the agenda but could be moved up.


  1. Return Building To Service Faster
    1. Building will be back in service for community faster under Repair & Reopen than demolition and reconstruction under “Partial Restoration” plan
    2. Can be used again for dances, weddings, community meetings
    3. If demolished, would Thelma Boltin Center actually be rebuilt? Especially with looming budget problems & material shortages?
    4. Example: House at Cofrin Nature Park demolished in 2015, intention was to replace house with purpose-built park center; 8 years later, has not been rebuilt
  2. Historic
    1. Authentic Historic buildings give Gainesville a sense of place
    2. Identified by Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual “11 to Save” list.
    3. Historical Marker erected 2008
    4. Prior City Commissions have fortunately reversed plans to demolish Historic buildings- even after demolition permits were granted – and instead saved them – e.g. Thomas Center
  3. Financial – Cost of Various Options
    1. $450,000 Repair & Reopen vs $5,600,000 for Demolish & Other Options
    2. Repair & Reopen: $450,000 to replace roof, stabilize structure, repair HVAC
    3. “Partial Restoration” (Demolish and rebuild all but two walls) – $5.6 million
    4. Historic Preservation grants –  funding available under Repair & Reopen, but may not be available if building is mostly demolished under the “Partial Restoration” plan
    5. Maintenance needed either way – Roof, HVACs wear out and eventually must be replaced
    6. We don’t normally demolish a building because it needs a new roof & other maintenance; if so, buildings would be demolished every 20 years; main thrust for demolition seems to be desire for new building, rather than condition of current building
    7. If cost overruns occur, starting at $450,000 vs $5.6 million would be better.
  4. Financial – General
    1. City facing tight budgets in future years – reductions in future GRU general fund transfers
    2. Potential recession might reduce Wild Spaces Public Places (WSPP) sales tax revenue
    3. May need to spend WSPP money on parks-related expenses previously covered from other revenue sources

If you share our concerns, please email our city commissioners at citycomm@gainesvillefl.gov and county commissioners at bocc@alachuacounty.us. Please ask to repair & reopen the Thelma Boltin Center. Please consider speaking at the meeting.

Betsy Maloney Hurst and Matthew Maloney Hurst, Gainesville

The opinions expressed by letter or opinion writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AlachuaChronicle.com. Letters may be submitted to info@alachuachronicle.com and are published at the discretion of the editor.

  • Flatten it and turn into park or affordable housing. If not use it to house the homeless.

  • I agree, we should just do the minimal restoration of the Bolton Center, like the letter writers propose.

  • This is a GNV problem,not a county problem. This is not a function of county government. They have roads to be concerned about, an actual infrastructure obligation. GNV, on the other hand, already has a budget problem. It started with Pageen Hanrahan and got much worse with Lauren Poe and is being ignored by the current incompetent in charge, Harvey Ward.

  • What have they been doing with all of the taxes they’ve been collecting for years? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

    May want to reconsider who and what you’re voting for next election cycle.

  • Betsy Maloney Hurst and Matthew Maloney Hurst, I agree that the minimal amount should be spent, but what is the historical importance of the building?

  • Essentially demolition by neglect. These “officials” have shown they can’t perform even basic municipal duties, such as stewardship of public property.

  • The city is broke! What is so hard to understand here. There should be no discretionary liberal pet projects anymore thanks to their mismanagement of GRU & general budget.

  • I absolutely don’t support a $5.6 million rebuild, but I also think the $450,000 renovation should come from the private sector, not public tax dollars.

    The historical significance of the site can be summarized as follows:
    1) it hosted USO shows in the 1940s
    2) local bands featuring Stephen Stills (Gainesville High alumnus, future member of Buffalo Springfield, future member of Crosby, Stills, & Nash), Don Felder (future member of Eagles), and Bernie Leadon (Gainesville high alumnus, future member of Eagles) played dances there
    3) Tom Petty attended those dances

    The work of the USO is fantastic and these gentlemen are all music legends without question, but the link to this building and its impact on Gainesville is very tenuous at best.

    I see a lot of talk in news articles from people who claim the historical significance is worth the cost. This is a chance to put your money where your mouth is–find 100 people willing to donate an average of $5,000 to the project and give them a plaque in the bathroom.

  • Progressive and Wokesville mental illness is alive and well in Gville. What utter fool would destroy history? Do the simple rehab you Jerks##ffs

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