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City contemplates center details

Excitement is building about the senior citizens center thatwill be built in the coming year. And as plans are being made anddiscussed, officials say there are several things to beconsidered.

The parking lot for the center is one consideration,specifically whether it will be positioned on the end of the lotnext to Bob’s Sandwich Shop or on the end closer to the governmentcomplex.

Officials have raised concerns that if the center is placed nearthe government complex, it may not be as aesthetically pleasing asif it were put near the intersection of West Cherokee Street andSouth First Street. However, if the building were put closer toFirst Baptist Church, parking spaces for the senior center could befilled by those going to the courthouse.

Mayor Bob Massengill said so far plans are still in the veryearly stages. He said that when the layour and location decision ismade, certainly there will be some people who might have wanted itdone the other way, but that the facility is being built with theentire community in mind.

“If you ask today, ‘Is the temperature comfortable out, somepeople will say yes and some will say no,'” he said. “You’re notgoing to get 100 percent approval no matter what you do, so we knowwhatever place we put it is not going to satisfy everybody.

“To me the key thing is that it’s going to meet the needs andprovide an additional opportunity for fun, fellowship and enjoymentfor all the seniors in our area, not just Brookhaven, but LincolnCounty and the surrounding areas,” the mayor continued.

The senior citizens center will be overseen by the BrookhavenRecreation Department.

Director Terry Reid said he believes the plans are still tenuousenough that the parking lot decision will not be made for at leasta little while. Reid pointed to a large room and a courtyard thatare yet to be determined size-wise.

“Til we get further into the size of the building, the locationof the parking is a moot question. We need to know if we’re goingto make the big room bigger, put a garden out there, and how muchroom we need for the garden, and there are too many variables toget into the parking until the final plans are drawn,” Reid said.”It’s too early in the game until all of that’s set.”

Massengill said the parking lot decision is coming, but that itwill be something that will be carefully weighed and discussed bythe board of aldermen.

“The board would make that determination, and there areadvantages to each of the options,” he said. “The board will bereviewing those as soon as we receive the notification that theenvironmental survey is complete.”

Meanwhile the environmental survey, which is routine for anyproject done with Community Development Block Grants, is stillunder way. It was extended a little because initial surveys showedthat there had once been a service station in close proximity tothe lot where the center will be built.

“When you’re using CDBG funds, as it was explained to us, in noway are we saying there’s a problem caused by once having a servicestation there,” said Massengill, adding that the procedures relatedto the service station are simply one of the routine checks thatmust be followed on any CDBG-related environmental study.

Overall, officials say as the plans progress, people of theBrookhaven community will be impressed and excited to see how it’sgoing to turn out.

“It doesn’t matter if the parking lot is on the north end or thesouth, this will be a facility we’re all proud of and that ourcommunity will enjoy using,” Massengill said.