One of Dade City’s most recognizable and heavily used buildings is headed toward a rebirth.
The City of Dade City and the Pasco County Recreation and Natural Resources Department are working on a project to tear down the existing structure and rebuild the James Irvin Civic Center.
The current building at 38122 Martin Luther King Blvd., in the heart of Naomi Price Park, originally was erected in 1963.
City officials reached out to residents on Nov. 6 and Nov. 9 asking them what exactly they wanted out of the facility.
At the same meetings, residents had a chance to see artist renderings of the planned reconstruction project.
No timeline for project start was unveiled, but those attending were encouraged to list the amenities they are seeking in a new civic center.
This is one of eight projects the city intends to complete. So far, it has earmarked $32 million of its budget for those projects.
The project will entail tearing down the existing building and erecting a new, larger, state-of-the-art facility, of which the city has already earmarked $1.2 million.
The project also involves renovation of Naomi Price Park. The park already has basketball courts, a playground, pavilions and restrooms. New park amenities include tennis and pickleball courts, a community garden, gazebo and learning trail.
“I grew up here and what was needed then and what is needed now is much different,” Dade City Mayor Jim Shive said. “We’re excited to see the designs and can’t wait to see final ones, but we know we will need to put more money aside (for rebuilding James Irvin Civic Center). But the input, especially (on Nov. 6 and Nov. 9) has been invaluable.”
CPH Solutions LLC, an architecture and engineering firm, presented a tentative artist rendering of the new facility on site, while also presenting two alternative floor plans that residents and locals were asked to vote for their favorite.
Overwhelmingly, those who came to Moore-Mickens Education Center on Nov. 6 and the current James Irvin Civic Center on Nov. 9 voted for the floor plan that included a large gymnasium, as well as multipurpose rooms and a kitchen.
“People definitely want a gym — a multipurpose indoor space,” Shive said, also noting that feedback on that came from residents wanting a place to hold and/or attend events away from the outdoor elements.
Erected in 1963, the James Irvin Civic Center gets its namesake from one of the most active members of the Dade City community. Irvin attended Moore-Mickens as a young teen and was known for his honesty and conscientiousness. He mentored young men, served as a deacon at his church and coached/officiated Little League games, including the one between Taiwan and Canada during a 1977 international competition.
In addition to owning Main Street Cleaners, one of the oldest businesses in Dade City, Irvin was an active volunteer with the Pasco Public Schools Foundation, the Community Alliance of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts, and the city’s Historical Preservation Advisory Board.
Knowing the love for Irvin, and the history of Price Park, in which it was Branch Camp No. 7, a World War II Prisoner Camp, was another reason the city reached out to its residents. City officials wanted to be respectful of the historic site.
“Instead of renovating the current building, we found it more financially feasible and logical to tear down and build from scratch,” City Manager Leslie Porter said. “But it was important to us to remember that these are still historical sites and they’re important to the city. When it comes to Dade City, we’re always considering the historical aspects, especially with all our projects.”
The new civic center is one of eight current projects either in the planning stages or soon-to-be in progress. Other projects include a new park at Church Avenue and Eighth Street, which will include a splash pad and amphitheater, Touchton Park renovation and the streetscape renovation to Seventh Street.
“We are all excited about all the projects and improvements because we know the impact it will have on Dade City,” Porter said. “We’ve been listening to the community and working with them, hand in hand, to bring what they want to Dade City, which is growing exponentially.”
“This is all very exciting,” Shive added. “We can’t wait to bring them all to our city.”
James Irvin Civic Center
Where: 38122 Martin Luther King Blvd., in Dade City
Details: A multipurpose, city-run building located at Naomi Price Park in Dade City. Plans call for tearing down the current building, which dates back to 1963, and replacing it with a state-of-the-art facility that includes multipurpose rooms, a gym, kitchen and more. The City of Dade City has already earmarked more than $1.2 million to fund the project.
Published November 15, 2023