STOCKBRIDGE — City officials suggested the process of constructing a new youth and senior center could potentially take at least a year, if not more.
On Thursday evening, Councilman Alphonso Thomas, as well as other city officials, held a town hall meeting at Smith/Barnes Elementary School in Stockbridge to discuss the proposed center.
Specifically, the meeting was meant to get input from members of the community, Thomas said.
During the meeting, assistant city manager Camilla Moore stressed patience for the new facility.
“We’re all excited about the potential for a new public facility,” Moore said. “But Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Moore presented a process that the city will take in constructing the new facility. The process includes a number of items, such as a feasibility study, community engagement, analysis, site selections and planning for the operation of the facility. Moore suggested the undertaking could take somewhere between 12-36 months.
As part of that process, city officials presented attendees with a questionnaire asking what they would like to see in the facility, as well as the priorities they’d like to see the center take. That survey was available at the town hall meeting, while an online survey should be available on Stockbridge’s website before long. Moore said that survey would be available for seven to 10 weeks.
Moore also encouraged attendees not to limit themselves when thinking of what they want to see, and encouraged attendees to visit nearby recreation centers to get an idea of what the city’s rec center could be.
“When you think of the facility, let your mind run wild,” she said.
Members of the community questioned city officials about a variety of topics at the event, such as funding sources, the impact on a nearby senior center in the Fairview area and the earliest the facility could be completed.
John Blount, the mayor pro tem of the city of Stockbridge, said the event was about getting a better understanding of the process to the community. He said the city can’t just vote something and make it happen without listening to input from the public.
“We want this center to be what the citizens want,” Blount said.
The youth and senior center had come under some controversy in recent weeks after the council voted down a proposal to immediately build the facility during a special called meeting of the city council last month. Those that voted the proposal down said they were not opposed to constructing the new facility, but the way the proposal had been brought about did not sit well with council members, as the meeting was held specifically to approve a SPLOST project list before Henry County’s deadline of July 19, and no one was prepared to discuss the facility at that time.
Following that vote, Councilman Elton Alexander posted on social media that the vote had meant members of the Stockbridge City Council were opposed to building the facility, something vehemently denied by Thomas, Blount and Lakeisha Gantt, the three who voted the proposal down at the meeting.
“We’ve talked about this for years,” Thomas said at Thursday’s town hall. “We’re all in favor of this.”