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Board likes assisted living center concept, but wants more discussion

More specific plans for a proposed assisted living facility atthe corner of Whitworth Avenue and Monticello Street were broughtbefore the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night.

City Director of Public Works Steve Moreton spoke on behalf ofGale Evans, who came up with the idea and is seeking the city’spermission before proceeding with having blueprints drawn up. Thecity planning commission had met for an extra hour Tuesday morningto discuss Evans’ proposal.

The board voted 4-2 to approve the concept of an assisted livingfacility on that corner, with Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron andAlderman at-large Les Bumgarner voting against the concept.

Moreton said Evans had changed a good bit about the projectafter meeting with aldermen to present the idea in earlyFebruary.

The structure, which is slated to be five stories, will now havea parking area on the first floor. Evans added the parking garageto answer aldermen’s worries about parking spaces downtown.

The second floor, Moreton said, will include a chapel, offices,a kitchen, laundry facilities, and a beauty parlor for residents.It will also have a balcony where the residents may dine and relax.The third, fourth, and fifth floors will have 24 apartments each,with 20 of them on the third floor being for Medicaid patients.

Bumgarner, Cameron, and Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwellexpressed concerns with having the facility in the downtownbusiness district. Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said shethought the idea might be a good one.

“There have been attempts at assisted living in the past, andwe’ve got Brookhaven residents living in other areas now because wedon’t have assisted living,” she said. “We’ve got people going intonursing homes who would be better off in assisted living.”

When other aldermen expressed doubts about having an assistedliving facility in the middle of the business district downtown,Estes pointed out the Inez Hotel. It currently serves as apartmentsjust across from the area in question.

“I’m not seeing assisted living as a big change from thedowntown now with the Inez there,” she said.

Maxwell said he was mainly concerned with accessibility, statingseveral times that he thought there should be elevator accessdirectly to the street without having to go through the parkinggarage.

Mayor Bob Massengill said one serious consideration is that sofar there has not been extensive interest shown in buying the lotEvans wants to build on, which is also the site of the May 24, 2007downtown fire.

“People aren’t just lining up to build on that corner, and it’sa real eyesore,” he said.

Estes said she agreed.

“Any objections I might have would be stronger if we didn’t havevacant buildings downtown,” she said. “He came with a plan beforeand we didn’t care for it, and he’s made some improvements.”

The board decided to meet with Evans and discuss his conceptfurther before approving the actual project itself.