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Town moves forward with Linda Kerley Center

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With its moniker firmed up last June, renovation work is now scheduled to begin on the Linda Kerley Center.

The Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved a construction contract Monday night for $871,354 with F & F Construction to renovate the 18,750-square-foot “aircraft hangar style” gymnasium on College Street.

The 56-year-old building has already received asbestos evaluations and design work done for the roof and boiler system. Asbestos abatement accounts for $20,000 of the contract.

Since 2011, the gas fired boiler system has been converted to a new hot water boiler system. Last October, the board approved a $34,750 contract for interior and exterior building renovation drawings.

The facility will include two large activity areas, an area for catering and a central gallery.

There was no argument to be made last summer that former Collierville mayor Linda Kerley should have her name attached to some portion of the renovated College Street gymnasium.

But rather than name a section of the future multi-use recreation and senior center after the town’s first female alderman and only female mayor, the Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to name the entire facility for Kerley.

A recommendation was initially made at a Parks Advisory Board meeting to name the senior wing of the center after Kerley, who passed away in November 2013.

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“Mayor Kerley was a strong advocate for senior citizens,” said Greg Clark, Parks, Recreation and Community Services, “consistently maintaining that Collierville should have recreational opportunities for residents of all ages.”

Last June, residents Karen Ganote and Chris Huelsing expressed their desire to see the entire center named for Kerley.

“Linda is very deserving to have this named after her,” said Ganote, who served with Kerley on the Collierville Elementary School PTA.

Acknowledging that he was “not a particular fan” of the former mayor, Chuck Lesnick of the Park Advisory Board said he had been told that Kerley “contributed enormously to the Parks and Recreation programs.”

“If somebody is worthy of recognition for their accomplishments, regardless of personal feelings, they should be recognized,” he said. “We would be doing a disservice by just naming part of the building for her.

“Don’t carve up the whole building,” he continued. “Give it one name.”

Alderman Billy Patton said he would like to make the motion to name the center after Kerley but that he would defer to Alderman Maureen Fraser.

“I know that she was close with Linda Kerley,” he said.

“Linda’s the one who got me into this,” Fraser told the board last summer.

Kerley was elected as the town’s first female alderman in 1995 and was voted mayor in 1999. She served two terms and retired in 2008.

During her tenure, the town’s board voted for a 10-cent park improvement tax for park upgrades and facilities.

Built in 1961, the wooden gymnasium was acquired from Shelby County Schools in 2011.

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