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Sadie Johnson Center Re-building Moving Forward, Drawings Approved by Committee

June 27th, 2011 by

Last Thursday night, local citizens, serving as committee members interested in rebuilding the Sadie Johnson Community Center met with ETC engineers and Mayor Allen Maxwell, and approved the preliminary drawings of the new structure to be built at Jordan Park on the site of the old building which was destroyed by fire last year.

The new facility will face Highway 278 have a brick front and foyer,  It will include a 64 seat meeting room, and a 156 seat banquet room, with a portable stage included.  There will be a storage area for tables and chairs from the banquet room, and a small kitchen area will be included assist with catering and delivered meals.

The 54′ x 86′ structure will include 4,750 square foot, at a predicted predicted cost of $487,000.

The new facility will be designed so it can be expanded,  possibly to include a commercial kitchen.

Final drawings could be completed in 2 to 3 months, to be presented to the City Council to meet their approval.

Construction could start in early 2012.

Mayor Lists Crisis Situations Facing City, as Citizens Ask For Update on Sadie Johnson Building – Discusses Fire Dept., Water Tanks, & Sewer Ponds
March 10, 2011

Approximately 30 local and former residents met with Mayor Allen Maxwell last week for an update on the construction of a new building to replace the Sadie Johnson building at Jordan Park that was destroyed by fire last year.

Mayor Maxwell told them about several other projects the city must complete first, which will likely require an undetermined amount of funds to complete.

First he updated the group on the condition of the roof over City Hall, the Police Department, and the MEDC.  It must be repaired or replaced, before damages done to furniture and equipment from leaks and water damage.

Next he addressed the fire department building.  Maxwell told them, “Most likely, will have to tear the current fire department down.”  Click here for more information about proposed locations for the central fire station, and comments made at this meeting by a city council member about the City Council’s lack of action in building a new fire station.

The next project Mayor Maxwell discussed was the situation with the west sewer pond.  He told the group that toxins from the sewer ponds flow into 10 Mile Creek, which flows in the Saline River.  The  city has been working with  ADEQ  guidelines, and has been stockpiling concrete and dirt to used to repair the levees.  He told them that if the city has to drain and dredge a sewer pond, there’s no idea what that could cost.

The mayor also discussed ISO ratings, and explained some of the costs that are being incurred by the city, in an effort to improve the current ISO rating, and lower insurance costs to residents.  He also updated the list of 55 fire hydrants which were thought to be obsolete and hard to operate, which has now reduced to 14, after maintenance work and a closer inspection had been done to the hydrants.  He also discussed the benefits of fire trucks being housed indoors, hiring additional dispatchers, and other improvements that could increase our point total in the ISO rating system. 

When asked about the priority of the new Sadie Johnson building, Maxwell responded, “We don’t have the money to build it now.”  “I have to know what were going to do with these things (other priority projects), before we start other projects.”  A member of the group mentioned that a presentation for the Sadie Johnson Museum was proposed to the city Council, a couple of years ago.  Another community leader added, “It seems like every time we come here we’re starting over.”

Funding for the new building includes $195,000, which is already been paid by insurance, and $275,000, that has been allocated by the City Council, in the current budget. 

Someone asked about the City Council’s appropriation last month of $130,000 for a girl’s softball field.  The mayor responded, “We’re going to build one girl’s softball field, because we’re short one field out there, then we’re going to go to work on everything else.”   A member of the audience commented, “I don’t think it’s right to build a softball field, when this (Sadie Johnson building ) was allocated last year.  The softball field needs to be held off until everything else is taken care of.”

Maxwell also included on the list of city projects that will require attention in the very near future, the condition of two water tanks.  The Conrad Street tower and the Burlington tower will both require a large amount of work, including cleaning and painting.  The Burlington project will require having a shroud placed over the tank, due to the lead in the paint that is now on the tank.

Mayor Maxwell showed the group preliminary drawings of a building to replace the older structure, and invited members of the group to look at the plans and offer suggestions.  It was suggested that new building face Highway 278, instead of facing east.

“It should be a building we could all be proud of,” was one response, when Maxwell pointed out that the drawings were just a suggested idea of the project’s design. An audience member pointed out that the design of the proposed building resembles the front of the old Drew School.  

“We’re going to have to deal with priorities.  We’ve got to have a fire department upgrade.  We’ve got to have our water tanks taken care of. We’ve got to have the sewer ponds taken care of, and we have to have the ceilings (and and roof in the City Hall complex) fixed, or we’re going to have to move out of these buildings.  Then come later priorities.”  

Maxwell added, “Hopefully we will get all of these things done in 2011.  Then we’ll be able to focus on other things.”    Changing the tone of the meeting, Maxwell firmly stated “There’s been no focus on taking care of many issues.  We’ve been growing like crazy, compared to everybody else, but we haven’t been taking care of our infrastructure; and I’m not going to be a part of that.”   A member of the audience asked, “The city budget is set for this year but in order to address these problems you may have to move money (the other priority projects)?” and Maxwell agreed that was correct.

In reference to the police department, Maxwell said that a good location would be the old Walmart building on Highway 425 South, which could house the police department, District Court, and MEDC.  This could allow the fire department to move into the current MEDC building.  But one department must be moved before we can even start working , either the fire department or the police department. 

Mayor Maxwell also mentioned the state requirement of a $600,000 contingency fund for the water department based on $100,000 for each well.  “We had an emergency fund, but we spent all the money and never raised water rates so now we are in the process of trying to replenish it,” commented the Mayor.

I’m not opposed to building a building. We’ve gone around and bought property, that in my opinion we had no business buying.  We have built, built, built, built.  We have built all kinds of stuff.   It’s time to slow down a little bit.  We need to replenish the water department and the water wells.  Monticello and Warren are about to be put into a “critical water area”,  due to the condition of the Sparta aquifer.

“Let me make one simple promise when we know that the sewer ponds the fire station and the roof are going to get done, were going to build this (building).”  “My best estimate is will finish most of these projects in 2011,” commented Maxwell.

Near the end of the meeting, a gentleman said, “We can not leave here feeling good if other projects including the most recent $120,000 ballfield are not put on hold, until the fire department and other needs are taken care off.”

16 Responses to “Sadie Johnson Center Re-building Moving Forward, Drawings Approved by Committee”

  1. GRANDMAW says:

    That is just sad, but we’ll have ANOTHER ball field !!! Where’s the stop light?? That’s why everyone voted for him, anyway!

  2. lite-n-up says:

    give the new mayor a break, he has been showing alot of results in the short time hes been in office. all this mess took years to pile up, and he cant fix it over night. But at least he is trying to make changes so desperatly needed.

  3. j says:

    If leaks are what you are trying to avoid the old wal mart won’t help. That thing leaked when it was built as most of them do. Flat roof and all. I remember buckets sitting everywhere on rainy days and guess what the supercenter is the same way. Don’t pick a former wal mart for leak prevention.

  4. D George says:

    The money for the Sadie Johnson building is there for the rebuilding, not for the mayor to change in mid stream. It’s just not a priority for him. Guess he’ll spend the insurance money on the new ball field.

  5. D George says:

    The money is there for the building and what the mayor said is an out and out LIE. These folks didn’t have this meeting to hear about other woes, they want the building rebuilt with the allocated funds and insurnace money. That money is there and no reason not to rebuild.

  6. ShortStaticBurst says:

    Wow look at that. Real problems facing Monticello. I really hope the people who had so much to say about the woman’s house burning down on West Jackson and how leaf burning was just such an issue and should be banned year round so their insurance premiums would go down would bother to read this article and realize Real Problems face Monticello. Not having an adequate fire department is REALLY gonna effect their house insurance.

  7. Hawkeye Pierce says:

    ShortStatisBurst- If you say we don’t have adequate fire protections, that’s even more reason to ban the burning of leaves!

    As to the topic at hand… Building something new is always going to be costly. It’s good for the city as a whole to rehabilitate and use existing structures. However, I can’t believe the old Wal-Mart is the best choice. That building has been vacant more days than not over the last TWENTY+ years.

  8. Lady Lynn says:

    A new ballfield? 130,000 dollars for a ANOTHER new ballfield? This really says alot about this town.

  9. doug says:

    Lady Lynn, we have over 300 girls playing on two ball fields. i have been paying taxes for this for a few years and need the field. Their will be more use on the ball field and more people coming to it than to the new Water park. How much money was used to build the water park. it does not even work.You are right( the field does say alot about our town). Also we do have the best fire and police dept in any town around here, you call them and they will help in any way they can. i you do not like Monticello move !!!!!!!!! the housing in town around us are cheap.

  10. Steve Wells says:

    Half a million for a ‘community’ center? I think the mayor’s right on this one.

  11. oy vay says:

    Praise Jesus,maybe this community will get their Sadie Johnson center back…

    I don’t mind getting this or that, I just think everything needs to be prioritized differently.

  12. grandmaw says:

    we built built built built WELL now he’s going to build ANOTHER! ball field….. Better get some good paying jobs around here so there will be kids to play.
    Ask the new mayor what is He going to name it. You got what you voted for .
    I THINK some of the land they are cleaning is private land. Using the State to clean private land (our tax dollars at work)!! Wonder if the State even knows this.
    Then I see a older lady cleaning her curb right up town, on hyatt street. she’s the one who needs some help

  13. Sandra says:

    I’m not getting into the discussion of money issues, what we need and don’t need. I would just like to praise Ms Sadie Johnson for the good she did for her community. She was never my teacher because there were 2 separate schools at that time and I went to W.C. Whaley and MHS. I just remember her as having such a sweet, compassionate spirit, always wearing a smile for everyone.
    It would be great for all the people whose life she impacted if there could be another center in her honor.

  14. LAX says:

    Still! No new fire department. Which is a higher priority?

    They could have put a doublewide trailer there and accomplished the same goal for far less money. Maybe the fire department needs same group of individuals who are so vocal about the Sadie Johnson building and the renaming of Jordan Park, to lobby for their cause.

  15. Jo Ann Trotter says:

    The committee that is in charge of the Sadie Johnson building project has nothing to do with the issue of renaming Jordan Park.

  16. oy vay says:

    Unlike LAX, I believe that Monticello needs the fire department and the Sadie Johnson equally. As far as I was aware,it housed headstart. Many children attend headstart so that their parents may work. That makes it a priority for the town.

    I apparently understood the article completely differently…to quote:“We’re going to have to deal with priorities. We’ve got to have a fire department upgrade. We’ve got to have our water tanks taken care of. We’ve got to have the sewer ponds taken care of, and we have to have the ceilings (and and roof in the City Hall complex) fixed, or we’re going to have to move out of these buildings. Then come later priorities.”

    Am I interpreting this wrong or does he not mean that Sadie Johnson is at the bottom of his priority list?

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