Chelsea officials break ground on new community center

Chelsea officials break ground for the city's new community/senior center May 20. (Reporter Photo/Cassandra Mickens)

Chelsea officials break ground for the city’s new community/senior center May 20. (Reporter Photo/Cassandra Mickens)

By CASSANDRA MICKENS/Associate Editor

CHELSEA — Donning white hard hats and with shovels in hand, Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven and the Chelsea City Council broke ground on the city’s new $3.6 million community/senior center during a brief ceremony May 20.

The 29,000-square-foot Chelsea Community/Senior Center will be located off Shelby County 47, directly across the street from Liberty Baptist Church. The city council in March awarded the bid for construction of the community center to Birmingham based Argo Building Co.  Argo Building submitted the lowest bid at $3,684,121.

“We’re very grateful for the support we have here in our community,” Niven said prior to the groundbreaking. “We’re looking forward to this being the cream of the crop, providing services to the community for many, many years.”

Among those attending the groundbreaking were city engineer Frank Spencer, architect Bob Wanninger, District 9 Shelby County Commissioner Robbie Hayes,  Chelsea Fire & Rescue Chief Wayne Shirley, Argo Building president Gary Niven, and Argo Building project manager Chris Chaney.

Mayor Niven and the council members soon returned to their cars for a short drive to Chelsea City Hall, where they convened for their regular work session and meeting.

Niven and the council voted 5-1 to award a near $570,000 bid to Birmingham-based H.N. Donahoo Contracting Co. for the development of two separate entrances for the community center.

Councilwoman Juanita Champion voted against the resolution that includes developing a right-turn only entrance and exit on Shelby County 47. The resolution also includes a full entrance and exit off Shelby County 337, which requires the construction of an 1,800-foot road to the community center.

Champion said the Shelby County 47 access point is the community center’s main entrance, and should be developed as such.

“I think if we have $569,000 to spend on the road, we should have that money to spend on the proper entrance,” Champion said before casting her dissenting vote.

Niven said he was told that a left turn off Shelby County 47 was not feasible, and city engineer Frank Spencer added that it could cost $750,000 to develop a left turn lane at the Shelby County 47 entrance.

The low bid to H.N Donahoo Contracting includes the right-turn only entrance and exit on Shelby County 47 for $105,647, and the full entrance and exit off Shelby County 337 at $464,335.

The community center is slated for completion in about a year.