Foundation poured for long-anticipated Priceville rec center
By Wes Tomlinson
For the Enquirer
About 180 cubic yards of concrete were poured for the foundation of a Priceville recreation center Thursday, marking a major step forward for the facility proposed almost seven years ago and financed four years ago with a $9 million bond issue.
The $5.6 million center off Marco Drive will be about 26,000 square feet — downsized by more than half from original plans.
The next phase of construction will start after steel beams and other metal materials arrive Dec. 15, according to Mayor Sam Heflin. “Because of the delays with getting metal supplies in, we’re expecting the building to be complete in September 2022,” Heflin said.
Officials originally hoped construction of the downsized rec center would begin in March and finish in early 2022.
Decatur-based contracting company Building Construction Associates is building the recreation center and started pouring concrete shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday. Heflin and two members of the Priceville Town Council were on site to take pictures and speak with the workers.
This will be the town’s first recreation center. It will feature a gymnasium with one basketball court, an indoor walking track and meeting rooms.
“All of our youth basketball and volleyball teams currently have to travel to Sparkman Elementary in Hartselle to play games or practice,” said Councilman Patrick Dean.
Councilman Melvin Duran III and Dean credited Duran’s father and former Town Council members for proposing the idea of the event center.
“We were at a ball game at Sparkman (Elementary), and Melvin’s dad was sitting right behind us and said, ‘You know what, we need something in Priceville for our youth sports teams to compete in,’” Dean said.
The first public mention of building a civic center was made in January 2015 by the elder Melvin Duran, who served as Priceville mayor for 34 years before Heflin was elected.
Heflin said the town has more plans in store for the rec center than sports events.
“We’d like to bring in trade shows and antique shows,” Heflin said. “This will also give people an opportunity to have weddings and many other events.”
Heflin and the two councilmen were elected in November 2020, and they said following through on the recreation project was their first priority.
“We actually started discussing the project the same week we were sworn in,” Dean said.
Two parking lots have been paved to the west and south of the rec center, where Heflin said the town plans to install electric vehicle charging stations.
“People can stop by here, fill up, check out the town and get back on the interstate pretty conveniently,” Heflin said.
Heflin said he wants to turn Marco Drive into a downtown area for Priceville.
“All of Priceville’s revenue comes directly from sales tax,” Heflin said. “So if we attract more people here to events at the rec center, they’ll go to our restaurants and retail outlets and spend money.”
Since 2010 Priceville’s population has increased by at least 32 percent, from 2,658 to 3,512 in the 2020 census, and the younger Duran said the new rec center was devised with the growing community in mind.
“This community has been so good to me and my family,” Duran said. “It’s time to give back.”
Heflin said he would like to make expansions to the building after it is complete. “That will be years down the road though,” Heflin said. “We have to pay some of this money back first.
“This is a long-term thing. We don’t want to do this all at once.”
The town issued $9 million in bonds in fall 2017, which generated $8.275 million in principal for what was then planned as a 66,000-square-foot center with four basketball courts, an indoor walking track and batting cages. The proposed rec center was downsized after original estimates for construction costs per square foot proved too low.
The town already owned the 12 acres being used for the rec center site.