Central City Park’s extensive makeover now includes a new place for Macon-Bibb County seniors to spend their days.
The downtown park is now the site of the Elaine H. Lucas Senior Center that opened Monday as seniors and local officials remarked on the lengthy journey to getting the project completed. The center is one of the final projects from the 2012 SPLOST to be finished.
Several years ago, Macon officials targeted having a new senior center open in early 2017. However, the proposed south Macon location in a renovated Bloomfield-Gilead complex was not appealing to a contingent of seniors who use the center.
Nearly 2,900 people signed a petition against a move to the Bloomfield complex. Also, about $400,000 dedicated for the project was spent on other work tied to the project. The commission later agreed to restore that amount in order to complete the Willie Smoke Glover Drive center.
Monday, however, was a time to recognize those who played a pivotal role in the center being built. The $2.7 million project was paid for with special sales tax funds and from the sale of the former senior center near Mercer University.
“It’s been a deep, deep journey,” said Robert Curry, president of the senior Golden Group. “Through many tribulations, we made it through, (thanks to) God.”
Once Central City was selected, seniors then had a say on the amenities and types of programs they wanted offered in the new place.
There is also enough room for an expansion of the center down the line while work will continue on the types of services offered to its members.
“We promise you that we’ll continue working to put in place the most comprehensive set of senior services that you have anywhere,” County Commissioner Elaine Lucas said.
Why was Central City chosen? Not only is the park in the heart of the city’s core, but it’s also close to Navicent Health and Coliseum Medical Centers.
“As seniors, we do have health problems,” said LeRoy Thomas Sr., a senior who was worked closely on the project. “It was told to us that we needed to go to south Macon, almost 30 minutes away from the nearest hospital. Didn’t make sense to me.”
Central City has undergone millions of dollars worth of other improvements in recent years. There was $3.7 million was spent on a new skate park, sidewalks, pavilions, RV spots, restrooms and more. Another $2.5 million was used for improvements to the historic Luther Williams Field in preparation for the Macon Bacon.
Four new multipurpose ball fields also offer a chance to play football, soccer and lacrosse while construction is underway on the second phase of the skate park.