The five-member group formed nearly a year ago and was hand-picked by the city council with each council member choosing a representative.
In December, the committee met with a public focus group, where people with different interests could see or hear what the committee was talking about and what its plans were, Jeff Austin Jr., chairman of the committee, said.
It was “sort of a resource-sharing group,” he said. “They asked a lot of good questions, and a lot of things we have to answer. We asked some people to get their thoughts and opinions before we gave a recommendation (to the city council). …You build a list (of wants) and see what you can afford to do. Hopefully, we will recommend something.”
Austin expects the committee to get back to the city council in the first quarter of the year.
In the meantime, he said the committee is scheduled to meet again within the next few weeks to see what its next step is, whether that is to continue deliberating or make a recommendation.
“We haven’t been trying to sell the project or gain consensus. We’ve just been getting information … (and) it’s still a work in progress,” Austin said.
Another committee member, former Jacksonville Mayor Robert Haberle, said background work included looking at cities with similar projects and engaging an architect.
He said the committee has a concept drawing and floor plan that it feels comfortable with, but everything is subject to approval by elected officials.
“We continue forward. We have a wealth of information stacked up right now, and we get that off the pile in a good format and deliver a recommendation to city council and wait for them to make a decision,” Haberle said.
Mayor Kenneth Melvin has said the city won’t increase property taxes to build the civic center but will fund the project with building rentals and hotel/ motel tax.
“Hopefully we’ll have a lot of people wanting to use it when it gets completed — (maybe) gun shows (or) a group will want to have a convention and rent the facility ...” he said last fall. “It is the city’s responsibility to spend those hotel/motel dollars to promote tourism.”
The project’s target price is estimated to be $3 million.
Melvin has said a construction timeline hasn’t been discussed, and the city won’t know a construction start date until it knows what the final design cost is and how much dirt work will be required. Two different locations in the Nichols Green Park area have been considered for the potential civic center.