A new center of town

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Residents hope to put heart back in downtown Monterey

By John Whitlock

Doreen McElroy wants a bench outside the new Monterey Community Center so people in downtown Monterey will have a place to sit down with neighbors and shoot the breeze.
Her idea was one of several presented Thursday night when more than a dozen concerned Monterey residents gathered to discuss plans for the new center.
“We had lots of very good ideas,” McElroy said. “It was a very good meeting and I think everyone was happy with the turnout.”
McElroy said she was impressed with the wide range of ideas and the amount of thought people put into what they want the center to be.
Some of the ideas include an open-mike night, after-school programs, workshops on health, workout sessions, movie nights, craft displays, a pool table and video games.
McElroy will serve on the management team with Kit Powell and Lee Searcy, a teen from Monterey.
“It’s good that the young people are represented,” McElroy said. “We want this to be a place for people of all ages especially the young people.”
The center, which is adjacent to the Monterey City Hall, was given to the city after the bank moved. The property was donated in hopes local residents would have a place to gather.
McElroy, who was appointed as leader of a three-person management team overseeing the community center project, said the building has a lot of potential but is in need of renovation.
“It will take a lot of work but I think it will be a great place for the entire community once it’s done,” McElroy said. “There really isn’t a place for people to gather here except Don’s (Monterey) Market and that’s good but there isn’t a place downtown for people.”
McElroy said the roof is in need of repair, the center will need some new wiring, and accessibility to the restrooms will need to be built.
Although no public money has been directed toward the project, McElroy said the city is supporting the community center.
“The city sponsored us getting a bank account to help collect donations but we will have to hold fund-raisers and collect money,” McElroy said.
Some donations, such as a gift from the Monterey Christian Church, have already been given.
Donations don’t have to come in financial terms. With all the renovations needed to the building, carpenters and plumbers are also asked to volunteer their time to help.
McElroy hopes the project will help bring life back to downtown Monterey.
“When the bank left and the store closed, a lot of Monterey’s heart left,” McElroy said. “We are hoping that we could put a little bit of the heart back in Monterey,”
For more information on the project, to make a donation or to volunteer to help, contact McElroy at 484-0945.