City mulling recreation center in YMCA building

Published 5:04 pm Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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Funding to install a citywide recreation center at the old Atmore Area YMCA building was one of the main topics of discussion during a city council workshop Monday afternoon.

United Bank Vice President and Managing Director of Community Facilities Lending Chris Walker said the funding source that would go toward the recreation center is the same as the funding that helped with the construction of the new sanitation building at the street department.

However, Walker said the funding source – a Community Facilities Lending Program – doesn’t fund recreation programs.

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“What a lot of municipalities have been doing is basically calling the facility a community center, where they have a gym and other facilities inside of it,” Walker said.

Walker said other municipal community centers have classrooms and rooms for rent for wedding receptions and family reunions.

Additionally, the city can utilize FEMA funding as well if it decides to add a tornado shelter in the center, Walker said.

Walker said the city has to apply for the building to be added to the National Historic Registry. The building would have to have some historical significance and go through an approval process prior to being listed on the registry, he said. From there, the city could get historic tax credits to go toward rehabbing the building even though it’s going to be proposed for something else.

Mayor Jim Staff said he had some engineers look at the YMCA building Monday morning, and are supposed to give the city an idea of how much it would cost to rehab the building.

Staff said there are a lot of services that the community needs, and the building has room to offer them.

Additionally, Walker said the building is centrally located in proximity to the north and south side of town.

“This will be something to keep the kids of the street,” City Councilmember Jerome Webster said.

Walker also said the city could take out a 35-year fixed rate loan, and suggested the cost analysis from the engineers be submitted soon.

Staff said the city should have something on the cost front in a couple months.

In other business, the city council discussed:

  • parking spots available in the Trammell Street area. Staff said there are 161 spots available in the area of Trammell, Main Street and Ridgeley Street areas. Additionally, a new proposed parking lot at the corner of Trammell and West Ridgeley Street would add another 38 spots.
  • Councilwoman Eunice Johnson discussed weed and wooden areas along Peachtree Street, burned houses on Brown Street, dumping in the creek on Mobile Street and both tire places on Carver Avenue.

“What Mr. Brown is talking about is parking around the white building in the middle,” Staff said, noting a graphic. “Those are all private parking spots and don’t belong to the city. He’s got a place with I think three parking spots. He wants the city to take all that on.”

Johnson said he (Brown) just feels like since the increase of businesses everybody is parking back there and the city should upkeep it.

“We can’t do services on private property,” Staff said.