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FWB church rec center up for sale
The city of Fort Walton Beach has an offer on the table for a big piece of surplus property.
Last year, the city said it would put more than five million dollars in unused property up for sale, including several homes, commercial lots, and closed city facilities.
The Chester Pruitt Recreation Center is one of those buildings.
Gregg Chapel AME Church has offered to purchase it for four-hundred-fifty thousand dollars.
They want to continue a legacy of community service.
Laura Hussey "The Chester Pruitt Rec Center has been at the heart of a neighborhood since the 1960s. Last year, the city of Fort Walton Beach announced it was closing, they're consolidating all of their recreation activities. This building was declared surplus."
When the pastor of Gregg Chapel AME Church heard the Pruitt Center would be sold, he felt a community connection.....
Rev. Cecil Williams/Gregg Chapel AME Church "Chester Pruitt has been the center focus of the black community here in Fort Walton."
And a personal one.
The center was named after his uncle.
Rev. "It was named after Chester Pruitt, one of the first black cops, the first black cop of Fort Walton Beach. He worked a lot with kids in the community."
Getting kids ready for the future is still the focus.
Reverend Cecil Williams and his congregation want to offer programs in the arts.
A major goal is to expand the space dedicated to head start, without changing their rent.
Upstairs, they'd create a technology lab with brand new computers.
Kendrick/Student "I think it would be a very good idea because some people have hard times at school and they can go there and get extra help if they need it."
The basketball court would be converted to a multi-purpose space..
Reverend Williams says they'd like to shuttle kids to the new city courts on Jet Drive.
He says his congregation is ready to pay the mortgage, so the Chester Pruitt Center can serve everyone.
Rev. Williams "Make sure you understand... it's not all about a 'black thing.' We want anyone that wants to use the building. We want it to stay here, look good, be a centerpiece for our community."
Laura Hussey "It will take two votes by the City Council to finalize the sale. The first vote is Tuesday night."
The city manager says selling surplus property raises money twice The cash from the sale, and the revenue from getting that