Leaders from the Town of Jonesborough and Rural Development break ground on town's new Senior Center at 307 E. Main St. (Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press)
Members of Jonesborough’s Seniors Center Advisory Committee turned the first spades of rock for construction of the town’s new $2.3 million seniors center Tuesday in a ceremonial groundbreaking celebration attended by representatives of the USDA Office of Rural Development, which is financing the project.
Rainey Construction began the extensive site preparation at the center’s new location on East Main Street at Longview Drive more than a month ago. Tuesday’s ceremonial ground-breaking was held in celebration of the state Fire Marshal’s final approval and go-ahead to begin construction on revised architectural designs developed this summer to bring the project within budget.
Mayor Kelly Wolfe called the project another investment in Jonesborough’s citizens and sense of community.
“These types of investments pay huge dividends for our town. Not only are they an investment in the lives of citizens ... but also in the future growth of our town,” Wolfe said. “The seniors center will be one more way for folks to interact and actively participate in our Jonesborough community.
“Jonesborough’s best selling point is quality of life. We are blessed to have it and we blessed to be here to dedicate this building. This seniors center is another investment in our citizens.”
Revised plans for the center were developed this summer after the low bid on the original designs came in more than $2 million over the project’s $2.3 million budget.
The scaled-back design eliminated a kitchen and left the building’s entire lower level unfinished for the future addition of showers, locker rooms and extra office space included in the original plans. A cost-saving change in the grade site also reduced the lower level by approximately 75 percent.
When complete, the building will provide more than 13,000 square feet of in finished space, or four to five times more programming space than is available at the current seniors center at Persimmon Ridge Park.
Barring weather delays, Wolfe said the construction should be completed in eight to 12 months.
In addition to the Seniors Center Advisory Committee, special guests at the ceremony included project architect Ken Ross, Representatives from Rainey Construction, Jonesborough aldermen, several county commissioners and Rural Development’s East Tennessee Director Joe Woody and Loan Officer Louis Trivette.
Woody said the seniors center is part of more than $1 billion in capital development projects in Tennessee that Rural Development has been involved in during the past year.