There could be a new public health building coming to Bibb County.
However, before you see any construction happening, the county would have to figure out several details including funding the $6 million project.
“It's an eyesore. It’s a sea of concrete,” says Bibb blight consultant Cass Hatcher.
Hatcher says even though most stores have left West Gate Mall, it is full of potential.
“You tear down the coat factory, and you tear down Walmart, and you get rid of the sea of asphalt. Come and put some green space and islands,” says Hatcher.
Hatcher presented commissioners with a $6.1 million plan to turn the center into a new county health center.
Most Bibb County commissioners were excited when they heard plans for a new health center at the site of the former West Gate Mall. Several spoke up about the poor condition of the current building.
But some commissioners also had some questions about funding, especially after finding out they are heading toward a $4 million deficit this year on top of a $12 million deficit the year before.
“The staff has told us over and over that it doesn't work for patients who come in,” says Commissioner Elaine Lucas.
Lucas says building a new center needs to be a priority. She says the current center is old and too small for the services they provide.
“Women’s health, you have men’s health, you have the dental clinic, you have health education,” says Lucas.
There is $4.3 million for the health department in the SPLOST. Lucas says she is going to push to use those funds on this.
“It’s just not set up the right way for the efficient delivery of services,” says Lucas.
Lucas said Bibb County could also try to get grants to help pay for the project.
County Spokesman Chris Floore says they may be able to use blight SPLOST funds for the project, but they would have to have a lawyer look into that.
We reached out to the board of health to see if they have already allocated any SPLOST funds for projects. They say they are still in the early phase of planning where those funds will go.