New senior center approved

After years of planning, the new Alabaster Senior Center to be located on the site of the Old Buck Creek Mill has been approved following Thursday’s city council meeting.

The city council voted 6-0 to fund the new senior center. Construction is expected to begin within the next four months, with the county beginning the clean-up process. Councilwoman Sophie Martin was absent for the vote.

The project is expected to cost $985,316, with $635,316 coming from budgeted money the city can only use for capital projects. Another $200,000 will come from Shelby County, while the remaining $150,000 will come from the Shelby County Community Health Foundation.

Mayor David Frings said using the money earmarked for capital projects to build the center was a good plan for the city and its citizens.

“It’s something we’ve all been looking at for many, many years,” Frings said of building the new center. “If we were going to have to go outside and borrow money, that’s something I couldn’t ask the council to do.”

Councilman Bob Hicks thanked the mayor for his hard work, and he also thanked the parks and recreation staff and seniors who have waited for the center to be built.

“Thank you for hanging in there,” Hicks said. “The dream is here.”

Parks Director Larry Vann said the mayor’s and council’s decision is one that will have a lasting impact.

“I believe God is smiling on this decision,” Vann said.

With the new center to be built on the site of the Old Buck Creek Mill, many efforts were made to maintain the history and integrity of the place.

Councilman Tommy Ryals praised the council for their commitment to preserving the mill, yet he noted a lot was lost due to its extremely poor condition. He also said the area will be preserved with artifacts from the mill.

And the decision to build on the site of the place that, by many accounts, placed Alabaster on the map, was one Ryals said is encouraging.

“In my mind, this is the first building in the new city center.”