By Crystal McGough
CLAY — The Clay City Council discussed plans on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to reopen the Senior Center to Clay senior residents in April. The tentative plan is to reopen the center the first Monday in April and attendance will be limited to only senior citizens who live within Clay city limits in order to maintain social distancing and follow COVID-19 guidelines. City Manager Ronnie Dixon said that the city could not accept the liability of bringing in senior citizens from outside the city limits.
“Within the city limits, the residents within our confines, I feel fairly confident from a liability standpoint that we would be OK,” Dixon said. “There are 11 of those who are within the city limits and are physically able to come to the Senior Center.”
Dixon proposed that the city wait until April to open the center in order to allow sufficient time for those who want to get COVID-19 vaccinations. For the first month, the center will be open on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday basis, and then return to a full five-day schedule after that. Meals will be provided by Barbecue Stop and the Food Giant deli in Pinson.
Any citizens coming to the Senior Center will have to provide their own means of transportation and will have their temperatures taken as they enter. They will also be required to maintain 6-foot social distancing.
“That’s about the extent you can go,” Dixon said. “You can’t ask them have they been vaccinated. You can’t ask them have they had COVID. But that’s the safest way, from a liability standpoint, that I can see we can get anybody into the Senior Center.”
Mayor Charles Webster and the council agreed to move forward with plans to open the center in April.
“I think it’s almost imperative that we give some of these people who have not left their house a place to go that they can feel safe,” Dixon said. “So, we’ll get that ball rolling.”
Dixon also put before the council information concerning the possibility of building a tornado shelter at Cosby Lake, where the Cosby Lake house currently stands.
“We have heard … people questioning why we don’t have a tornado shelter in Clay,” Dixon said. “That’s not actually true; we have one on each end of the city in the public schools, and yes we have keys and are able to open them. … (A shelter at Cosby Lake) would give you something in the middle. I don’t think it would be prudent for us to spend any kind of money on the Bryant Park or on the Clay-Chalkville Middle School end because both of those are rated tornado shelters. So, what I did was look in the middle … and the only place that makes sense to me to even recommend that y’all think about is at Cosby.”
Dixon said the Cosby Lake house is an older building, so the city could tear the house down and build a larger lake house that could also be used as a multi-purpose building. The structure would accommodate 230 people for a tornado shelter and cost about $350,000 to $375,000. Currently, Bryant Park Elementary can shelter up to 700 people and CCMS can hold 750.
“It’s not something that I would recommend as something that we either need or that you do, but I wanted to put it out there on the table because I know y’all have been contacted by people and want to know if there is a place to go,” Dixon said. “So, if you’re not satisfied with just the two schools on either end of the city, there is an opportunity to put something at Cosby Lake. … I wanted you to have that information to think about, talk about and if you want to proceed, then we can start out with the bid process and all that stuff.”
Councilors Ben Thackerson and Dennis Locke both asked for additional information including photos or drawings of similar structures and information about how other municipalities utilize their shelters.
Under city business, the council approved the following resolutions:
- Resolution 2021-05, to contract with the Greater Birmingham Humane Society for animal control
- Resolution 2021-06, releasing the liens for abatement of weeds on the property located at 5209 Baggett Drive
Councilor Locke announced the February $500 school grant winners:
- Clay Elementary School: Kristi Lott, AV Club, funds will be used to purchase equipment necessary to provide quality livestream events for students and parents. This would include items such as capture card, tripod, camera mic and cables.
- Bryant Elementary School: Jennifer Dominic, Fifth Grade Math & Science, funds will be used to purchase blue light blocking glasses; headphones for computer-based learning; chair-back storage for books/supplies; white boards with dry erase markers.
- CCMS: Dustin Hastings, Grade Seven Life Science, funds will be used to purchase items to update the school’s science lab to meet new guidelines and safety precautions. This would include a UV Google sanitizer cabinet.
- CCHS: Bob Adams, Social Studies and boys Soccer Coach, funds will be used purchase soccer equipment for the team.
The next meeting of the Clay City Council will be Tuesday, March 9, 2021, beginning at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held virtually on Zoom.