SMITHFIELD – The Town of Princeton wants to build a new Community Center. Town officials are working to secure funding for the project and have asked Johnston County Commissioners to contribute towards the cost.
Mayor Don Rains and newly hired Town Administrator Michael King appeared June 6th before Commissioners asking for financial support. Mayor Rains said the current Community Center was built in the 1980’s and can accomodate a total of about 100 people. When town leaders began looking at renovating the building they learned constructing a new and larger Community Center was a better option.
The proposed new $2 million Community Center could accommodate up to 170 people and would include a covered porch, covered pavilion, and outdoor amphitheatre. The property could also be used as a wedding venue, farmers market, conference and meetings rooms, and by Veterans.
Mayor Rains said the proposed 6,325 sq ft facility would also be the new home for the Princeton Library which has outgrown their current space. The new location would allow them to double their hours of operation. The Community Center would be located about a half-block from the school, allowing students easy access to the library after classes.
Mayor Rains said 90 percent of all Downtown buildings are occupied and a new Community Center would enhance the quality of life for Princeton residents and those in surrounding communities like Pine Level, Kenly, Brogden and western Wayne County. The Center would be available to rent at a reasonable cost, the mayor promised, so the public could enjoy the use of the town building.
Rep. John Bell, who represents the Princeton area, was able to secure a $500,000 grant from the NC General Assembly towards the $2 million price tag. Private donations have reached $108,000. Princeton leaders want Johnston County to chip in $250,000 towards the cost.
Town officials will ask the USDA for a low-interest loan to cover the remaining cost, of just over $1.1 million.
The new Community Center would be constructed behind the current building, allowing the existing building to remain in use until the new facility opens. Afterwards, the old building would be razed.
The mayor said the less money the Town has to borrow the more profitable the building will be and the less debt the Town has to incur.
County Commissioners took the request under advisement as part of their 2022-2023 fiscal year budget, which must be approved by July 1, 2022.