New senior center will be built even if SPLOST fails

By Justin Reedy

A new senior activity center planned for the Jonesboro area will be built whether a proposed sales tax increase to pay for the facility is passed by voters this fall, Clayton County's chief administrator said.

The senior center is one of several new parks and recreation facilities that would be paid for under a proposed one-percent special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, that Clayton County voters will decide Sept. 16.

But with $75,000 in federal funding for the center recently secured by U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, county officials say the facility will be built even if the penny tax measure is turned down by voters.

"It'll just take longer to build it," said Crandle Bray, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners. "We'd probably have to back it up with federal Department of Housing and Urban Development money whenever it becomes available. But that could be several years down the road."

The proposed center would be very similar to the new Clayton County Senior Center in Riverdale, Bray said. That center has a therapeutic pool, a computer training lab, a full-service kitchen, and a training kitchen for cooking classes. The center also has several smaller rooms for arts and crafts courses, dance classes, and other activities.

The Riverdale center has been a hit with local seniors since it opened last spring. Lovejoy resident Genevieve Carroll is one of many Clayton County residents who were glad to see the newer facility open, since it's an improvement over the Shelnutt Senior Center in Jonesboro.

"We definitely needed it n we need more things for the senior citizens," Carroll said.

The new center will probably be built on the property that houses Clayton County International Park, home of The Beach water park. The federal funding will pay for most of the architectural design of the new facility, Bray said, which will include some improvements over the design of the Riverdale center.