$2 million plan seeks to expand senior center

Tue, 03/06/2007 - 5:58pm
By: John Munford

The preliminary design for an “addition” to Peachtree City’s senior citizen center calls for a $2 million projected cost for the proposed 11,375 square-foot expansion.

The design, presented to the City Council at its weekend retreat, calls for a new professional kitchen and a “programming” room that would seat up to 150 people and could be divided into three separate rooms.

Although the expansion would be at The Gathering Place, currently used almost exclusively for senior citizens programs, the new facility would be used by other recreation programs also, said Randy Gaddo, the city’s director of leisure services. Recreation Director Sherry McHugh said the facility would be used at night to offer classes.

“We can program all this space when the seniors aren’t there,” Gaddo said.

The projected $2 million cost is far off from the initial $650,000 the city planned to spend on the project.

The project would be built in two different phases but no projection has yet been made about the staffing it would require, Gaddo said. City Manager Bernie McMullen said it would likely take “at least” three to four additional staffers.

Gaddo said the city is looking into the use of a video surveillance system so an employee could stay at the front desk and be able to see what’s going on throughout the facility. There will also be a need for additional parking, he added.

While there was some talk among council about whether or not the project should be scaled back, it’s likely that this project will be presented on a bond referendum. That would allow voters to determine whether or not they want their property taxes increased to fund construction and staffing of the facility.

The city cannot use one particular long-term funding program, dubbed “Bricks and Mortar” because the facility is not a critical need, explained City Finance Director Paul Salvatore.

Councilwoman Judi-ann Rutherford said she wondered if the city should be “getting into the event planning business.” Rutherford noted that with 150 seats in the banquet room, the facility would be larger than the banquet room at the privately-owned Glendalough Manor in Tyrone.

Rutherford also said she hasn’t been presented with statistics that back up the need for the expanded facility. When the city voted on a bond for the library expansion several years ago, there were concrete numbers about how many people were using the facility. Those figures will be necessary for this project to proceed.

Part of the plan for the expansion is to allow it to be rented out to private groups for evenings and weekends, Gaddo said.

If the city does get into that “event planning business,” it may have to waive the current rule that alcohol not be used at the Gathering Place, even during private events, officials noted.

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CCB's picture
Submitted by CCB on Wed, 03/07/2007 - 6:37pm.

Seriously, who is the jackass behind this disaster? The same mayor and council and the same staff screw up an estimate from $650,000 to $2 million. How do they even have the guts to bring up a $1,350,000 discrepancy before the people and say they’ll build it anyway?

Will we have to pay for it twice like we did the tennis center? It's time to get the attorney general involved. This is a rip-off waiting to happen.

Submitted by PTC_factchecker on Wed, 03/07/2007 - 8:23pm.

Were you actually at retreat? From what I was told, Council scoffed at the $2 million price tag as well - they said that even if the staff could attempt to consider justifying the opulence it would go before the voters to let them make the decision, just like the library did.

Get off the "council is evil" kick - you probably don't go to any meetings and get all your "information" from this fish rag/spam box.

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