New recreation center to feature library, STEAM programs as well as sports
A long-anticipated recreational facility will help fill a void in south Macon when it opens in August.
The Gilead-Bloomfield complex will offer people the chance to check out books, take fitness classes and play sports, as well as learn about nutrition, science and technology. The complex combines Bloomfield Park with the three-building campus of the former Gilead Christian Academy.
The center and park will have its share of recreational options: a new weight room, renovated gymnasium, spin cycle classes, sports fields and more, Macon-Bibb County Recreation Director Robert Walker said.
It’ll also be home to a library branch and offer after-school programs on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, or STEAM. A total of $2.8 million from two special purpose local option sales taxes have been used to get the 1931 Rocky Creek Road facility ready.
The plan is to open next month if some last-minute work is completed by then.
Participants will have to pay a fee for some programs,and the fees will be a similar amount to those at other Macon-Bibb recreation centers.
“It’ll become more of a multipurpose use facility,” Walker said. “Bloomfield restricts us because of size. It’s not a very big building, but this one gives us more usage. You’ll be able to have multiple programs at one time.”
Bibb County purchased the former school property in 2013 for $650,000, according to property records.
Since then, SPLOST money was used to redo the restrooms, repair the air conditioning system, and install new lighting, a gym floor and a scoreboard.
The new library branch will fill a gap in library services for the surrounding neighborhoods, said Jennifer Lautzenheiser, director of the Middle Georgia Regional Library System.
The nearest libraries — Charles A. Lanford, M.D. Library and the Washington Memorial Library — are both at least six miles away from the new branch.
At 1,000 square feet, the Gilead-Bloomfield library will be smaller than other locations. There will be a strong focus on newer books of interest and an emphasis on technology, Lautzenheiser said.
People will be able to search for jobs and fill out resumes online. There will be 3D printing and classes that teach computer coding to children.
“This is a really exciting and cost-efficient way to get library services back to this community,” Lautzenheiser said. “We really tried to work closely with the Recreation Department to make sure we can be accessible to as many patrons as possible.”