Commission gives green light for aldermen to say ‘yes’

We called for leadership, and Thursday night’s vote at the Brookhaven Planning Commission was exactly that.

By approving the requested special use (S-1) distinction for a new assisted living center in the city, the commission has taken a positive step toward building Brookhaven’s Certified Retirement City status into an economic engine for growth in our community. The commission also has said “yes” to our elderly residents who would like to be able to stay in Brookhaven when the day eventually comes that they need assisted living.

The commission’s recommendation will now go before the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen this Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in the city boardroom of the Government Complex. As we urged last week before the commission’s meeting, we again call for leadership as the aldermen vote on this vitally important matter Tuesday night.

A reputable company has chosen our community to invest as much as $3 million dollars, pay wages for 25 local permanent employees, and pay city and county taxes. Not only that, this facility will provide comfortable homes for 44 couples or individuals who are still active but no longer feel comfortable living on their own. Many will keep their cars and drive to local businesses to spend their retirement income and pump sales tax revenue into our city.

Over the years since Brookhaven was recognized as a Certified Retirement City, various developers tried to build assisted living centers in town, but obstacles were raised to keep the projects from becoming a reality.

Now we are poised to finally say “yes,” once the aldermen approve the commission’s recommendation Tuesday night. Based on the plans shown by Magee-based Advanced Healthcare Management, the highly attractive facility will be a place that seniors from miles around will be looking to as a potential home when the time comes for it. We applaud the planning commission for giving the green light to an important project for not only Brookhaven, but also for Lincoln County and the surrounding counties.

Retirees in bigger cities often look for smaller communities with lower costs of living as new hometowns, and having an assisted living center will be yet another draw for Brookhaven to market itself as a retirement city.

With the money coming in from our new tourism tax, our chamber of commerce also will have funds that can be used to market our Certified Retirement City opportunities. Senior tour groups like Elderhostel could be sought out to visit us, tour our historic sites, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, visit our shops, and, who knows, perhaps some of these visitors might decide to come live here. We already have much to draw new residents, including our parks, our low crime rate, our tree-lined residential areas, our health facilities including King’s Daughters Medical Center and its clinics and centers, plus our relatively low property costs and utility rates.

While the potential for future growth for our city is great, the immediate economic return once the assisted living center begins operations is great in and of itself. This business will have an annual payroll of $500,000, and each resident will pay his or her own way to live there. Down the road, the company could one day decide to expand to meet growing demand.

This facility is greatly needed, and the aldermen now have the opportunity Tuesday night to add their stamp of approval to the planning commission’s recommendation and say “yes” to this new investment in our community.

Once again, it’s time to lead, not be led.