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Decatur's Carrie Matthews Center awaiting its fate

The Decatur housing authority agreed to sell land near the Carrie Matthews Recreation Center to build a new youth center.

DECATUR, Ala. — Decatur's Carrie Matthews Center may soon be just another part of River City history.

Clarence Holmes, a lifelong Decatur resident, says, "When it opened, we played morning, noon and night every day. That was a great group of people that came down to play all the time. All the staff was great." Holmes was born and raised in Decatur and has been coming to this rec center since he was 12 years old. He's now 67.

According to City of Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling, the center will likely be demolished. This hit Holmes hard. "It's like a bomb you know, they'd be telling you about precision and all that. most weapons are not precision and they tap everything around it. We need this here because this is home. this is home to quite a few people."

The center has been inactive for more than a year and Bowling says the foundation of this center would take a lot to be repaired. "The soil is not conducive to supporting the foundation. So we don't want to invest any more money in that. We've already invested just in testing alone. So we've got the data that speaks for itself and so we're going across the street."

Mayor Bowling shares they have plans to build a new Decatur youth services campus on the 6 acre land across the street, with a potential plan to turn the Carrie Matthews Center into basketball courts.

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This center has been a big voting location for residents in the area and Holmes is concerned this demolition will reduce their ability to vote. "About maybe a third of the voters wouldn't be able to have access to vote because people around here don't have cars."

Mayor Bowling says this new youth center could encourage the next generation. "We've got to find a workforce and to be able to take those that might have some challenges in school that we're able to help them become better students, be able to be productive and come into the workforce. I think that's ultimately what we're looking for."

And as Holmes stands outside this center, it brings back memories of playing basketball with his five brothers. "We were great ballplayers. And I cherish that. It makes me smile."

Mayor Bowling and Holmes both agree that it's important for residents to attend the city council meetings. Holmes says, "We need to start going to the meetings that they have on a regular basis. And we need to not go as one or two. we need to go as a group so that we might be able to hear what we have to say and give us some type of answer to what we are requesting."

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