Construction at Macon's Frank Johnson Community Center is expected to begin next week and will include a new entrance, offices, a computer lab and restrooms.
A groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning at the center at 2227 Mercer University Drive marked the start of a facelift there. The $933,000 in upgrades to the center are part of the improvements called for in the 2012 special purpose local options sales tax agreement.
Frank Johnson, whom the center is named for and who has been known for years as the "mayor" of the Unionville neighborhood, grew up playing where the center now stands. He is proud that the center is getting a new look, his wife, Dorothy Johnson, said.
"He always talks about how he played in the dirt and sand, but didn't have a recreation center to go into," she said.
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The lead designers behind the projects are 2WR + PARTNERS and WM2A Architects. Cook General Contracting, based in Gainesville, will be in charge of construction.
The new computer lab will replace the one that's now in a small storage room. Antiquated restrooms will be replaced, and an expanded entrance with glass in place of concrete walls on some interior walls will make the center more inviting for visitors, said Lee Martin, project architect and partner at 2WR.
One of the recommendations from people who use the center is more open space that could better create a "social gathering place," said Reggie Moore, director of the Macon-Bibb County Recreation Department.
"We are working to make sure when the facility opens that it is heavily used," he said.
Although renovations will be ongoing, the pool will open on Memorial Day and will be available during normal hours through the rest of the summer.
A new gym is part of the plans for the next phase that would need additional SPLOST funding.
"We are really happy that work is underway so that (Frank Johnson) will get repairs and be updated to better serve the community," Commissioner Bert Bivins said.
To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623 or find him on Twitter@stan_telegraph.