Jasper City Council recently discussed with a Jasper Main Street official the need to possibly come up with a use for Sherer Auditorium as part of a current project in the area.
The matter was brought up at a council work shop Friday by Mike Putman, the executive director of Jasper Main Street. The building is currently not operated for public use. However, according to one online source, it was constructed by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration in 1938 and used as a municipal auditorium for many years. In more recent years it was used for some meetings and for the Election Night counting before it was moved to the Jasper Civic Center.
Putman said progress is being made on the Town Creek development project that was half funded by the city. To fund the rest of the plan, $10,000 was given from Jasper Main Street, and $30,000 from the Walker Area Community Foundation.
Main Street would be open to options for Sherer Auditorium, Putman said. Whether it is developed by the city, or sold to be used by others, he emphasized he wants to make sure all sides are on the same page and that he is welcome to any ideas.
The inclusion of the building in the plan was discussed when the project first began several months ago.
Council President Danny Gambrell, who has talked in the past about finding a use to keep the building, said, "I like the city auditorium. I think it needs to be in the historical district because it has been there since the '30s. I know it still needs a lot of work, but in my opinion we still need to make use of it in some capacity."
He said the building means a lot to people who went through the city school system, remembering students used to have physical education in the building.
No one spoke in favor of one option, which would be to get rid of the facility.
"We'll all be run out of town if we tear down the building," Putman said.
The $80,000 project was put together by Orchestra Partners, a Birmingham real estate development firm, which Putman said still has seven more months of work to do.
City Attorney Russ Robertson said the building could be sold to anyone for value, but if it is sold for under value, it would have to be for a public purpose, which is what Putman understood.
Renovations are also nearly completed on Town Creek Park, across the street from Downs and Associates on First Avenue, and will be compliant with the American Disabilities Act when it reopens, Putman said.
Rotary Club of Jasper helped with the exercise equipment, and the Heath Action Partnership undertook the swing set, and Main Street, with the help of the Don Drummond Fund, helped with all the other work there, outside of the city helping with work such as curbing, he said.
Council members Jed Daniel and Jennifer W. Smith were not present for the meeting.