Questions or concerns have been received regarding the City of Leeds Senior Center and programs offered to its senior residents while the state of Alabama has had all senior centers in the state closed since March due to COVID-19 and the risk associated with senior adults.
Just to bring everyone up to date, here is the Mayor's reply to a citizen with questions about the senior center:
Dear Leeds Resident:
In response to your message to Councilwoman Linda Miller, I would like to provide you with some answers to your questions and respond to your statements.
You mention that since I have moved into my new office, there is now room for social distancing at the Senior Center. For information, my office was never in the building where the Senior Center is located (Civic Center), so it is incorrect that my office location has anything to do with Senior Center operations.
You mention that you are capable of deciding what is safe for the senior citizens. That is not the question. The City is legally bound by the public health directives of the Governor and both State and County Public Health officers. The City did not decide to shut down the Senior Center; the Governor ordered ALL Senior Centers shut down in her order effective March 20, 2020. Here is an excerpt from that order:
"12. Senior Citizen Centers. Effective March 20, 2020, all regular programs at Senior Citizen Centers shall be ended except that Senior Citizen Centers and their partners are urged to assure that their clients continue to receive needed meals via curbside pick-up or delivery"
As for the exercise classes themselves, they only exist because the Mayor and City Council voted unanimously to pick up the cost when Jefferson County withdrew from the program several years ago. I can assure you that your statement that no one one in the council meeting knew of the exercise program, is not correct. I had previously discussed the program a number of times with one of the participants, Mr. Jimmy Roy Johnson. Jimmy Roy was very happy that the City had taken on paying for the program after the County withdrew. Certainly it is not true as you suggest, that the City does not want to pay for the program. The program only exists because the City voluntarily stepped in and took over the payments.
Your insinuation that I don't have compassion for our seniors is misplaced. ALL our Council persons as well as myself are deeply interested in providing a much improved senior program, both in terms of facilities and programs offered. Acquisition of the Alabama Power Building, which, incidentally was paid for by Alabama Trust Fund and Leeds Municipal Court Fund Money and not from the City's general fund, has allowed us to move both the Court and Council meetings out of the Civic Center and now gives us the space to expand both the Senior Center program and the space allocated to Leeds Outreach (Leeds Welfare).
Now that we have the space, the 2021 budget will have funds for renovating and expanding the Senior Center and senior programs as well as hiring a certified Senior Center Manager. We cannot give you a date that the Senior Center will be reopened as that decision is out of our hands and will be determined by the Governor and state and county public health officials.We have hopes that the Governor will loosen the restrictions in her forthcoming public health order in early July.
I hope this answers your concerns and reassures you that this administration is both aware of the needs of our Senior Center and has plans to meet those needs.
The first step for upgrade is new flooring which is scheduled to be installed in the coming weeks. Also, questions can be addressed directly to the Mayor at 205.577.1396 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.