County breaks ground on Hampton Senior/Recreation Center

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

After years of waiting, senior residents on the west side of Henry County will finally have a place to call their own.

City and county leaders broke ground Monday on a new Senior/Recreation Center that will be built at 56 McDonough Street in Hampton. The 20,800 square-foot center will be built with a budget of $4 million from the fourth installment of the county’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax program.

On Monday officials broke ground at the site of the new Hampton Senior/Recreation Center. They hope to have the project completed in eight months. Photo by Seth Jackson

District II Commissioner Brian Preston was among those on hand to celebrate the occasion. He says the project is “over a decade in the making” for senior residents in Henry.

“When I got appointed to be the county commissioner for District II, one of the first things that was brought to me was this unfulfilled promise of getting a senior center,” says Preston. “It was promised as part of SPLOST II, it was promised as part of SPLOST III. So when we did the planning for SPLOST IV, we wanted to make sure we fulfilled that promise. It was actually a lot of citizens that were expecting this project to move forward, so I’m just glad we’ve been able to fulfill it. The City of Hampton is a big part of that.”

Preston says city leaders in Hampton acquired five acres of land for the project and worked with county leaders on infrastructure improvements for the area surrounding the property.

Hampton Mayor Steve Hutchison was visibly excited at the groundbreaking ceremony. He says it represents “a glorious day” for residents of his city.

“I’m so proud of the county and the city of Hampton coming together,” says Hutchison. “We’re going to build this project. Hopefully, within eight months’ time, the senior center will be here.”

The center will be used jointly by Henry’s Senior Services and Parks & Recreation Departments. Approximately 9,900 square feet will be for the senior center, which will feature: a covered, drive-up entrance; a lounge with a gas fireplace; rooms for games, cards and crafts; a multipurpose room; a full-service kitchen and dining room; an adjacent outdoor porch and patio area; restrooms and a staff office.

The county already has senior centers in McDonough, Stockbridge and Locust Grove. Senior Services Director Diane Reed says the center will help the county benefit more of its elderly residents in Hampton as well.

“I think it’s the most highly-anticipated opening of a center in Henry County,” says Reed. “They’ve been asking and wanting this project to occur for many, many years.”

About 6,100 square feet of the facility will be used for Parks & Recreation. It will include a separate entrance into its own lobby, two large multi-purpose activity rooms, a vending area, restrooms, a break room, and an area behind the Recreation side of the building for a future gymnasium.

Parks & Recreation Director Tim Coley says his department’s portion of the facility will not only available to seniors, but to residents of all ages in the community. “We will be able to offer a recreation class, we’ll be offering summer camp, camps for when kids are out of school and places for them to go,” he says. “We’re anticipating several classes and a lot of opportunities that we’re not able to offer now.”

Both departments will have direct access to a shared 4,800 square-foot fitness area when the building is completed. That space will feature an aerobics room, a fitness area with cardio/weight equipment, and an indoor walking track.

Flynn Finderup Architects of Atlanta is overseeing the project, with a design contract of $250,690. The contractor for the endeavor is Meja Construction, Inc., of Peachtree City, which has a construction contract of $3,293,000.

Construction is expected to be complete in November of this year.