FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) — Community members in west Florence are sounding off about the plans to renovate the Handy Recreation Center. They say those renovations won’t go far enough.
The community says the recreation center was built in the 1950s and has been a staple in the community, but people like Vivian Pearson say they’re frustrated with city leaders over the plans to remodel the facility.
“I’m very disappointed with city officials I’m disgusted and I’m frustrated,” Pearson said.
Pearson, who grew up in west Florence says city leaders were supposed to carry out a full-fledged renovation.
Florence city council member Kaytrina Simmons presides over the district where the center is located. Simmons says she was caught off guard by the new plans, which did not include a full-scale renovation of the facility.
“A partial renovation. I don’t think that was right, if you’re going to renovate something you renovate it fully,” Simmons said.
People like Pearson say their request to have the center rebuilt has gone unheard. The long-time Florence native believes city leaders have turned a blind eye toward the west Florence community.
With partial renovation plans in place, she says the issues her community is dealing with goes beyond the center.
“We have been neglected, excluded, rejected, and denied for so long. This is why we feel that we are due a new center. It’s unfair to us as a community to have a partial modification,” Pearson told News 19.
Although he declined to go on camera, Florence Mayor Andrew Betterton provided News 19 with a statement regarding the recreation center.
“The only adjustment was for an expanded kitchen. The change of scope to include locker rooms was not included at this time,” the mayor’s statement read.
Simmons believes the city could’ve found a way to make full-scale renovation plans possible.
“The part was due to the funding and as I stated before and I state now and I am on the finance committee, we find the funds for everything else that needs to be funded here, we could’ve done that,” Simmons said.
Pearson says she feels the council has not been living up to serving her side of the city. “We got a group of people that sit up in front of us at a council meeting that come to our district meetings and give us all these promises and they never ever follow through,” Pearson said.
Florence Mayor Andrew Betterton says renovation plans for the Handy Recreation Center have gone out for bid.