In 1986 the dream of Richard (Dick) Beeman to build an auditorium for the performing arts had its beginning in the basement of White’s Art Gallery. A small group of citizens agreed that the city of Osceola would benefit from such a project and a formal committee was formed. After receiving 501c3 status, and approval of a logo: ARC (Clarke County Fine Arts & Recreation Center) the project quickly expanded to a full blown recreation center to include an auditorium.
Listing all the details surrounding the past 33 years would fill a book, so the following is a sampling of the accomplishments of the ARC. The original goal in 1986 was to provide the community with a fine arts and recreational facility that would provide all the venues normally found in a “Y” facility, plus an auditorium and display areas for the arts. Fast forward 15 years and the group took a time out and directed their efforts in supporting the Clarke Community School bond project to build that current high school auditorium and exercise facility.
Since then ARC turned its attention to the recreational facility and began having a conversation with DEKKO it was agreed they would provide both financial support and guidance in return of the promise to direct all funding to support recreational opportunities for the community. DEKKO eventually granted the group $200,000 which permitted funding for planning and engineering studies and the purchase of a building site. In 2004 ARC purchased 61.5 acres from Tom and Julieta Pollard. This land begins and continues north from the old Fairground “Buck” Likes Arena to the County Yard. The proposed facility was to be located here with the remainder of land dedicated for development and re-sale to raise additional capital for the building.
Then the Osceola Summer Ball program experienced a near crisis situation when notified their lease on the fields would not be renewed. As a result a “Core” group was formed with representation from ARC, cities of Woodburn, Osceola, Murray, the County, Clarke and Murray Schools, Osceola Development Corp, Area Arts Council, Little League, and parks and Recreation, all focusing their attention on finding a new location for their ball fields as well as a rec center.
ARC deeded the 61.5 acres over to the City retaining a 5 acre site for the recreation facility and 10 acres for development. The City expended significant dollars in engineering and construction costs; the County provided significant in kind services in labor and construction equipment; the Clarke School District granted access over easement area and the City, Development Corporation and County Fair Board came to an agreement on the relocation of the fairgrounds to their current location.
The Broadsack property, located adjacent to the Pollard land was purchased and burned by the fire department in training fires, with the City and county clearing the site. During this period the locating and relocating of some of the barriers such as underground high pressure gas lines, overhead power lines was completed giving full access to the site.