Columbia County Report: Another decision looming in Richardson Community Center saga

County officials say if they do not accept the deed they will hand over the keys April 6
County officials say if they do not accept the deed they will hand over the keys April 6
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:10 PM EDT
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LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) - Shayne Edge grew up playing at the Richardson Community Center before he went on to play football at the University of Florida from 1991-94.

“We always felt like we could come here and it was a home,” said Edge.

He wants to make sure the center does not close down over conflict between Lake City and Columbia County leaders.

“We could always come here after school and shoot basketball,” said Edge. “You had people that were going to take care of you, going to be be safe, and I just want it to continue for people like that.”

The county currently leases the building from the city, and officials say they will vacate the building on April 6 if they don’t get full ownership.

City Council members sent the deed to the county and commissioners are set to vote on whether to accept it at their scheduled meeting Thursday.

The two sides have been going back-and-forth for more than a year, and Edge says he is frustrated they can’t find a solution to benefit the county’s youth.

“I just hate that the adults in the room can’t get together and figure out what’s best for these kids,’ said Edge. “If we can do something to help these kids out that’s all that matters to me.”

Another long-time Lake City resident who uses the center says he understands the county’s stance.

“I think that the county--rightfully so--wants the deed,” said Lance Drawdy, “wants the ownership of the property rather than funding something that isn’t technically theirs.”

Drawdy and Edge still come back to the center multiple times a week to play pickleball with friends.

They both say they would hate to see it close down over politics.

“There’s no reason for this place to close or turn into something else,” said Edge, “in my opinion, so you can have these kids come and do the same thing I did 30 years ago.”

“Nobody really messes around here,” said Drawdy. “It’s kind of a place where people can come and just let loose, play. It’s a really important piece of our community.”

County leaders say if they accept the deed, they will begin looking into upgrading the center.

If they deny the deed, they will turn over the keys April 6.

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