HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The City of Huntsville will soon repurpose a former Alabama National Guard armory located next to John Hunt Park for park and community uses. The project was unanimously approved by the city council Thursday.

The City of Huntsville will soon repurpose a former Alabama National Guard armory located next to John Hunt Park for park and community uses. (Photo courtesy City of Huntsville)

The new Raymond W. Jones Community Center, located just off Memorial Parkway at the Steve Hettinger entrance to John Hunt Park, will cater to the needs of senior citizens with disabilities, according to City Administrator John Hamilton.

“The space inside an armory makes for a great (use). It’s almost kind of a gym fitness center type facility,” Hamilton said. “It’s what we’ll be able to build for this program.”

That program called ‘Rock Steady’ is designed to help seniors who have movement issues like Parkinson’s Disease.

“They’ve got some great fitness-type programs that really help the quality of life and longevity for people that are suffering from that disease.”

That won’t be the only accommodation for folks in the John Hunt Park area. In light of the Park’s added features in recent years, Hamilton said all its administrative offices will move to the community center, calling it a convenient consolidation – also unanimously approved by the City Council.

“If you’re planning a big soccer tournament or some kind of festival or whatever and you need to work with the staff on making reservations or planning your event, that’s where you’ll go: to their offices and meet with them there,” he said.

But Hamilton admits there will be plenty of work to do before the transformation of the building is viable for public access.

“It’s getting a new roof, all-new mechanical systems, significant electrical upgrade, quite a bit of cosmetic work both on the outside and the inside. We’ve got to build out the parking areas, add a lot of ADA-accessible spaces in there, those kinds of things. So it needs a lot of work. Basically, you’re adding decades of life to the building and it’s going to serve great programs that we really need to accommodate in a growing city like ours.”

The contract stipulates work will begin within 10 calendar days after a notice to proceed is issued. The contractor has 430 days to complete the project, according to the city release.