The Homewood City Council voted 7-3 Thursday night to approve financing of the proposed new parks and recreation center.
The vote authorizes the mayor to execute a contract with Protective Securities of Birmingham and Merchant Capital of Montgomery to prepare warrants the city needs to pay for construction of the proposed $17 million facility. The city plans to pay for the facility over 30 years.
The majority of the council voting for the financing had served on the previous council and was privy to discussions concerning the need for a new recreation center and financing options. Those members include Fred Hawkins, Walter Jones, Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky and Peter Wright. New members Richard Laws and Heather Reid voted with those supporting financing.
But newcomer council members Michael Hallman, Britt Thames and Jenifer Champ Wallis voted against refinancing, saying they need more time to study the issue.
They reiterated they weren’t opposed to the recreation center but wanted to make a more informed vote.
“I’m not opposed to this,” Hallman said. “I just need more time. I’m not an expert. I don’t know if this is what’s best, or if we need to consider other options. I just want to feel comfortable before I indebt the city for 30 years.”
However, Jones and other council members said the city needs to strike while interest rates are low and that delaying the project would disrupt the process the parks board established in terms of demolishing the current facility and finding a temporary location for parks and recreation services.
Parks officials have said a new center needs to be built because the present one is older and has outgrown its use. It would cost more over the long haul to renovate the facility, which was built more than 40 years, than to build a new one, parks officials say.
Homewood officials are hoping the new facility will be completed by May 2014.