Politics & Government

Bibb seniors may get revamped Bloomfield center

Macon-Bibb County commissioners will soon hear a proposal about converting the existing Bloomfield recreation center off Rocky Creek Road into a new senior citizens center.

The advisory committee for projects funded by the 2011 special purpose local option sales tax heard Monday evening from County Manager Dale Walker and SPLOST projects manager Clay Murphey that an addition to the Bloomfield center, along with the renovation next door of the former Gilead Baptist Church and Gilead Christian Academy, could become a combined center for seniors and youth.

Committee member Monica Smith suggested the combination might be welcomed by senior center users, but Murphey said that’s not the reaction so far.

“The seniors aren’t real pleased about it,” he said.

Murphey said the tentative plan is for an addition to the Bloomfield center, and a conversion of the nearby church and school -- previously bought by Bibb County -- into an arts and education center for younger people.

Mayor Robert Reichert said polls of current senior center users show that they want just about every suggested amenity in a new facility, from a walking track and swimming pool to a kitchen and craft rooms. But the SPLOST only budgets $2 million for a senior center, which officials say isn’t nearly enough to build everything.

However, Murphey said, the Bloomfield center is slated to get an additional $2.5 million for renovation. By combining the two, more and better facilities for youths and seniors can be afforded, he said.

A presentation on the subject is coming to commissioners Tuesday, Murphey said.

Committee member Theron Ussery said people often ask him what will be done at Freedom Park, where the swimming pool has been out of commission for a few years and the gymnasium was recently turned into a boxing arena with SPLOST funds. They also question what will be done at the Filmore Thomas Recreation Area, which is fairly close by, he said. The former lake there is not expected to be refilled.

Walker said consultants are examining the Bloomfield pool to see whether it can be repaired, and an architect is working on plans for the Filmore site.

Reichert said at Freedom Park, Filmore Thomas or both, there’s discussion of putting in a “splash pad” instead of a pool. Those are popular, much cheaper and easier to maintain, he said.

SPLOST INCOME

The six-year SPLOST has two and a half years left to run, and had taken in $76.6 million by the end of November, Walker said. That’s less than initially expected by this time, but holiday spending should bring a surge of receipts by January, he said.

Murphey said SPLOST income is 3.5 percent below projections.

“Receipts this year are up over last year. They’re just not as high as the year before,” he said.

The three fire stations in the SPLOST are coming in well under the $4 million allocated for each of them, Murphey said.

Committee Chairman Jeffery Monroe asked if any project budgets had been set unrealistically low. Murphey named the new Animal Welfare Center and renovations to the Bibb County Courthouse. Savings from one fire station have already been reallocated to give the animal shelter a needed $435,000. Walker said the courthouse, now slated to get $3.5 million, will probably need $1 million more.

Murphey said he’s “working diligently” to get city and county SPLOST projects in under budget, so any excess can be reallocated to projects that need more.

“I think there’ll be some adjustments where we’re able to complete all the projects,” he said.

Also Monday:

Within a few days, an interactive map showing SPLOST projects countywide will be available to the public on www.maconbibb.us, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said.

The online map will show the location of each project, and frequently updated information about what’s being done, how much has been spent and how much is allocated, he said.

The SPLOST committee, which has met quarterly, will begin meeting in February on the second Monday of every other month.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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