JEFFERSON, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – The Mayor of Jefferson is asking for transparency in the planning process for the proposed expansion of a church in the downtown area to include an activity center.

A meeting set for Thursday afternoon to discuss the proposed 16,000-square-foot activity center at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in downtown Jefferson has residents and Mayor Rob Baker asking questions because it is not open to the public.

“I think there are concerns in the community about the small two-person invitation meeting and how private it is and it won’t be televised and it won’t be a town hall thing,” Baker said.

Neither the public nor members of the Jefferson City Council will be allowed to attend the meeting.

“The lack of transparency that we’ve seen so far is the small private meetings. It’s not getting input from the citizens. This isn’t about the mayor and the council. This is about the citizens of Jefferson. The citizens are the ones calling me the citizens are the ones calling Council.”

“I believe that it should be open to the public, said Jefferson resident, Colin Harper. “Just due to the fact that, if we can get an Architectural Review Board involved with it, then that way we can preserve the historic downtown Jefferson.”

“Well, I think it fails the good neighbor test, I was going to do something that affected my neighbor in a positive or negative way,” said another Jefferson resident, Jim Mcintosh. “You know, I talked to my neighbor, the church is our neighbor, and so I think to be inclusive and bring people in can only help everybody. We are a special town, as anyone who’s been to Jefferson will be able to tell you, and the citizens are concerned about that and they want to make sure we stay special.”

The activity center will also be discussed at the next city council meeting on May 17.