Hilliard residents seek funding for rec center

Partnership ended with YMCA


HILLIARD, Fla. – Residents in a Nassau County neighborhood are coming together to try and find a solution for a community recreation center.  Funding is now needed for the Hilliard Recreation Center after a partnership with the YMCA ended.

City leaders met with the heads of the rec center in January to try and find funding for the building. But that meeting only led to angry residents after comments made by Mayor David Buchanan were sent to the publication, "Westside Journal."

Some of the comments included that he told another citizen to "sit down and shut up" and "they found themselves in a situation they no longer wanted to be in."  

The "Westside Journal" said Mayor Buchanan quoted an offensive line from a movie, that some viewed as anti-gay remarks.

Before Monday's meeting, News4JAX spoke with the mayor about the public outcry. He said he had no comment on the subject.

Mayor Buchanan did speak about the popular rec center that has become the place where many people in the small Nassau County town work out.

"I don't think it's been divisive. There are people who want it to be operating as it's been operating. The town has been putting about $150,000 more into the parks and rec department than we want to and we want to close that gap," said Buchanan.

Some members of the public haven't been happy with what it's taken to fix the financial problems at the town gym.

Paul Whittenburg has lived in Hilliard for more than 40 years. He thinks the center should stay open.

"I'm just a person who wants to keep it open…because it's the best thing this town has ever had. I came here in 1972 and they don't need to close it" said Whittenburg.

The Town Center took recommendations at Monday night's meeting on how the center should be funded. They will make a decision at the next meeting. 

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