After years of debate, the Town of Summerfield has officially decided to move forward with a new town hall.

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the Summerfield Town Council voted nearly unanimously to pay an architect to design the structure that’s expected to cost around $3.5 million.

Some citizens say that Summerfield needs to have a central location for Town Council meetings and other government meetings, even though it will cost the town several million dollars to achieve that purpose. Advocates say it will also be a nice place where town staff can work. Currently, the Town Council holds its regular meetings in the small conference rooms with folding tables and chairs that attendees fold up and store at the end of the meeting.

Those opposed to building a new town hall argue that the project will actually cost more that $3.5 million – some opponents have speculated that the final cost will end up being $5 million or $6 million when it is all said and done.

In the first phase approved on Tuesday night, the town will spend about $280,000. The lone no vote against the move was Summerfield Town Councilmember Teresa Pegram, who is very often at odds with the other members of the council, including with Summerfield Mayor BJ Barnes.

Some critics of the move argue that this is “putting the cart before the horse” because the town does not currently have a location chosen for the building that will be one story with about 9,100 square feet of space.

Barnes has said in the past that Summerfield already has the funds to construct the building since the town has a large savings account.