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Commissioners choose size, style of senior center

By Greg Gelpi

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners provided direction to architects for the proposed Jonesboro Senior Center.

The commissioners chose the size of the senior center as well as the design for the "skin" of the building at a meeting held Monday.

The senior center is funded by the county's special purpose local option sales tax and the cost is about $6 million.

The architects must review plans for the senior center with a committee made up of county officials affected by the project for more input, but the project is moving forward.

The commissioners chose an option that is about 28,000 square feet, which is about 2,000 square feet larger than the senior center in Riverdale. The commissioners also chose a "village-style" design for the look of the senior center, which will be on the lake in Clayton County International Park.

Senior centers are vital to the community, said Eddie Burgess, assistant program manager of the Riverdale senior center.

"This center has probably saved lives," Burgess said. "They come in here and feel lonesome, find friends and suddenly have a new lease on life."

Architects are working with a planning committee to base the new senior center on the one in Riverdale.

Ralph Nixon makes the trip from Fayetteville to Riverdale nearly everyday to visit the center and hone his skills at playing pool.

"Friends always come first here," Nixon said.

The company he meets at the center makes the trips worth driving, he said.

The Jonesboro Senior Center will provide relief to the Riverdale center and give a closer location for those in that part of the county.

"We had people waiting on machines this morning," Burgess said of the weight room equipment. "Some of the (water) classes have up to 16 people. This pool is a little small for that."

The proposed complex will have a 30-foot by 50-foot swimming pool, library, exercise room and an assortment of other multi-purpose rooms.

"First of all it's about the exercise," Maria Pereira, a senior citizen working out on the treadmill in Riverdale, said. "Secondly it's about learning to play pool."

Nothing has been finalized on the Jonesboro Senior Center as of yet, said Mary Turnipseed of the architectural firm Peter H. Hand and Associates.

Details and specifications of the project could still change.

"This is the substantive design in which we feel like we still are able to tweak things," Turnipseed said.

Commissioners would like to move further in the process of building the senior center at its next meeting, which is set for Tuesday.