City gets senior center grant

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brookhaven has been approved for an almost $500,000 state grantto help fund construction of a new senior citizens center, aldermenlearned during Tuesday’s board meeting.

With Mayor Bob Massengill out of town, City Clerk Mike Jinksshared Massengill’s report of the good news that came in the formof a letter from the Mississippi Development Authority.

The city has been working on the idea of a senior citizenscenter for over a year, and has put aside $350,000 to put towardthe project. Still, Jinks said, the development would have beenimpossible without the $490,000 Community Development Block Grantthat came through the MDA.

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“We’re excited about getting the grant, because without thegrant we couldn’t get the facility,” Jinks said. “The thing allalong was that if we can get the grant funds we can build thefacility, but it was just necessary to get the grant.”

The center will be located in the gravel parking lot across fromthe Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex. Official said thelot is the best place for the center because it would be a centrallocation where people from all corners of town could reach it witha reasonable amount of ease.

Jinks said the center, once opened, will be run by theBrookhaven Recreation Department. Recreation Department DirectorTerry Reid said the addition will be a big positive to the citizensof Brookhaven.

“It’s going to mean a lot to the city, since it’ll give theseniors access to a building in a central location that everyonecan get to,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get some good programsgoing. We’re working on coming up with ideas, and members of thepublic should feel free to contact us with any input they mighthave.”

A completion date for the senior center has not beendetermined.

Jinks said the first step is to get an environmental study doneon the lot, which is routine when putting in a new facility. WoodySample of Sample & Associates is the administrator for thegrant and is working on those details now, Jinks said.

“Anything with a CDBG requires an environmental study, becauseyou’re dealing with land and properties,” he said.

Once the study is done, the rest of the development of thefacility will begin. Jinks said the board had selected JBH&MArchitects out of Columbus for the work, but they can only sign theagreement after the environmental study is complete.

Aldermen are currently in the middle of budget talks as well.Jinks said as of right now he is not sure what will be figured infor the senior citizens center or when it might be up andrunning.

“They’ve got to work through that,” he said. “But I do know onceit’s built, it will be funded through the recreation department, sowe will put money in their budget for it when the time comes.”

In other business, aldermen discussed naming a road that runsfrom Halbert Heights Road down to Fisher Park. Ward Five AldermanD.W. Maxwell said the road has been in existence since beforeFisher Park was developed, but it has never been given a name.

For years there has only been one resident on the street who hasbeen content to have a Halbert Heights address though his housefronted the nameless gravel road. Recently lots have been plannedfor development that will need addresses, Maxwell said, thuscalling for the need for a road name.

Maxwell suggested calling the trail Rhodes Lane, after residentCecil Rhodes, who has lived there since the 1950s. City AttorneyJoe Fernald said part of the trail can be named, but that the resthas to be approved as a road by the Brookhaven Board ofAdjustments.

“Since there is a road there now that we’re using, we can namethat part,” he said. “My suggestion is that you name the part ofthe trail that is under use, because the rest is subject to theboard of adjustments. Once they approve the road, we can approvethe name.”

Additionally, Ward Three Alderwoman Mary Wilson said that hersubcommittee on the much-contested downtown parking issue has notyet been able to schedule a meeting. She expected the panel to meetand generate some ideas before the next regular meeting of theboard of aldermen on Sept 2.