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JSU considering sites for new performance center

JSU center site

Jacksonville State University's Houston Cole Library looms over the intersection of Pelham Road and Roebuck Waters Street, where the university is considering building a new performing arts center.

While plans are only in early stages for the Randy Owen Performance Center at Jacksonville State University, it’s already clear the new building would have a big impact on the campus. 

One site being considered for the center is next to the Houston Cole Library, according to Charles Lewis, JSU’s vice president for university advancement. It’s near the center of campus, within sight across busy Pelham Road from JSU’s newest new building, a recreation and fitness center which opened early in 2019.

If that site is chosen, the new center would be on the north side of Roebuck Waters Street, which connects Pelham and Church Avenue, Lewis said. 

The center, which was unveiled publicly by JSU trustees at a Saturday birthday celebration for trustee and famed country music artist Randy Owen, is in very early conceptual and planning stages, Lewis said.

Speculation began circulating on social media about the construction of the center causing the possible closure of Roebuck Waters. Similar rumors cropped up last year, after the university began cleaning up the library lot following the March 19, 2018, tornado that swept through Jacksonville. The university said at the time that it was just an effort to beautify campus following the storm; no construction has taken place at the site since, and the street remains open.

According to Lewis, who said he had seen the rumors, the library-adjacent site is being considered for the final location of the center, but the street wouldn’t close, even if the center is built there.

“There’s no thought of closing Roebuck Waters,” Lewis said by phone Thursday. “It’s not ours to close.” 

The city of Jacksonville maintains the road, and an agreement would need to be reached between the university and city in order for the street to be vacated and filled. Lewis said no discussions with the city had occurred, nor will occur.

According to Lewis, there is enough room in a lot next to the library for the center, although the university-owned College Apartments complex, which sits along Roebuck Waters, could possibly be affected if the center is built in that location.

Contact Staff Writer Daniel Mayes at 256-235-3561 or danielmayesstar@gmail.com. On Twitter @DMayes_Star.

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