Tom Henderson - Candidate Position Statement

Center Point Municipal Candidates

Position Statements

Tom Henderson

Economic Development:

What should be Center Point’s top Economic Development priority?

Our top priorities should be to continue to recruit new businesses and to retain our present businesses. One of the best ways to retain businesses is for the people of Center Point to shop in center Point. If the businesses in the city are successful, new businesses will be more likely to choose Center Point. This will lead to more and better job opportunities for our citizens.

When it comes to Economic Development and growth, what are Center Point’s greatest challenges and greatest assets?

Our greatest challenges are to fill empty store fronts and to make the empty spaces more presentable so prospective businesses are attracted to Center Point. Our greatest assets to attract new businesses are the amenities the city has to offer to new residents and businesses. These include our park system which provides opportunities for all ages and interests including our four- legged friends and our outstanding Fire District and Sheriff’s Office.

How would you prioritize Center Point’s capital improvement needs?

Our comprehensive plan calls for us to have recreational opportunities available within walking distance of all our citizens. This would be one of the improvements I see as being needed. This could be done by acquiring empty lots within neighborhoods and developing “Pocket Parks” with picnic areas and small playgrounds for the children. We also need to continue to upgrade our present parks. Completion of the project on Polly Reed Road is a top priority. This project will cover the ditches and put sidewalks and pave the road from Center Point Parkway to Reed Harvey Park.

The City and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce attend the International Conference of Shopping Centers annual convention each year as well as the regional ICSC meeting attended by the Chamber Economic Development Coordinator. These events are primarily recruiting venues for new businesses.  Both the City and the Chamber work closely with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to plan growth and development within the city.  The City of Center Point has also recently been named an Alabama Community of Excellence (ACE) which provides more grant opportunities for the City.  What other means would you employ to draw new businesses to our City?

We need to use the Regional Planning Commission to secure leads on businesses that contact them looking for opportunities. My membership on the RPC Board and the Metropolitan Planning Organization puts me in a position to work with them. We need to emphasize our awards such as, being designated as an Alabama City of Excellence and a Certified Municipality by the Alabama League of Municipalities, on all possible social media in order to make prospective businesses and industry know we are a city that is moving forward. We also will continue to work with the Birmingham Business Alliance to secure new leads to industries interested in locating in this area.

The City has had a very aggressive grant writing program over the years that has gained the City over $12 million in services, inventory, construction and programs.  While grants do not fund operating expenses, they do allow the City to offer special programs that are over and above what the budget allows.  Some examples of things grants have funded in the City include:  law enforcement equipment and training, three additions to the Senior Center (including the one currently being constructed) as well as programs for seniors, all of the sidewalks within the city limits, the splash pad, energy efficiency grant to bring down utility costs, boardwalk at the Reed-Harvey Park, a playground at the community center, etc. What types of innovative programs would you envision our community having that might be accessible through grant writing?

We need more grant money to enable us to add additional sidewalks where feasible. These could be in conjunction with the development of the “Pocket Parks.” We have put in over two miles of sidewalks that include: from Erwin Intermediate School to the Parkway by way of 24th Ave. and 23rd Terrace NW at a cost of $350,000.00.  We also have put in the side walk from 21st NE to 23rd Ave. and 1st NE with lighting and fence at the Park at a cost of $500,000.00.

Education:

Since our schools are a part of the Jefferson County School District, the City has limited input into their organization/structure. How can the City of Center Point best support the area schools in our city limits?

We can continue to increase the amount of funds we allocate to the schools each year. We have provided the schools with $143,000.00 in this fiscal year. We can support them by attending the sporting events, concerts, plays and other events at the schools and funding special projects. The schools are in need of volunteers with different projects. All parents need to be members of the PTA at their school. We can all become members of the Booster Clubs for the different extracurricular activities at each school.

Although our public library has an independent board, the city still supports the library financially.  What do you see as the city’s role as pertains to the library?

The city is very proud of the new Library located along side of the Community Center at 533 Sunhill Road. The city will continue to provide funding for the Library. The city should continue to encourage our schools and all citizens to take advantage of all the opportunities that are provided by the Library and its staff.

Parks & Recreation:

Please name the existing services offered at each of the City’s parks that you are aware of and what services can be improved upon.

The Sport Complex on Chalkville School Road provides opportunities for youth baseball, softball, football, concession stands as well as flashlight Easter Egg hunts.  The City continues to upgrade the quality of the playing fields. I would like to see more travel teams at the park.

Reed Harvey Park - Meals on wheels, senior games, movies in the park, splash pad, fishing rodeos for children and adults, playground equipment and Veterans Memorial, & walking trails. Hillcrest Manor is a wedding venue that provides the community with opportunities to have weddings, parties and receptions, etc. The annual Christmas tree lighting is also held there. I would like to see more activities for the children at the lake and organized activities at the playground.

The sports complex at the Jefferson County Annex features a baseball field, tennis courts, soccer field, & walking track.   We also have an annual National Night Out in October that gives the citizens a chance to visit with each other and get to know the Sheriff’s deputies and the firemen.

The Community Center offers many opportunities for fitness classes, weight room, gymnasium (available for youth and adult basketball, pickleball &  volleyball), social events, Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, Fire District Christmas Dinner and trainings and other events, Fireside room for small meetings, full commercial kitchen, gymnastics and classrooms for meetings and rentals for small events,. a softball field, with plans for a future walking trail and playground. The Community Center also provides a youth Summer Camp, Trunk or Treat, and backpack give away and the new Job Fair.

Please state what additional recreational services you would like to see the City offer its residents.

As stated above I would like to see “Pocket Parks.” around the city. If property becomes available on the northwest side of the City, I would like to see the City put in a playground and picnic areas for the citizens on that side of our City. The Completion of the Cherry Parmer Dog Park is near. The Grand Opening is planned for August 19, 2020.

We are also working on adding additional trails to the Five Mile Creek Greenway located along Five Mile Creek. Reed Harvey Park is part of the Five Mile Creek Greenway System.

If you have visited the new Community Center, please give your impressions of the positives of this facility and what you would improve upon within current budgetary funding.

The basketball court and workout center have been a tremendous addition to the recreational activities available to our citizens, young and old.  I would like to see the instruction class offerings expanded. This whole center is a great asset to the city and is being utilized to its capacity during the pandemic.

Public Works:

Are there any areas of PUBLIC property within the City limits of Center Point that need improvements? Where and what improvements would you implement?

Our public works department does a wonderful job of maintaining the roads the city is responsible for in the annexed portions of the city. They also are the liaison between the Jefferson County Roads and Transportation concerning the roads and rights-of-way in the original incorporated areas of the city. They also are the city’s liaison with Advanced Disposal for garbage and trash pickup.  The Public Works Department needs additional personnel and upgraded equipment in order to continue and improve services. The Horticulture department does a great job of keeping the medians and other city properties looking good with the landscaping. They are also are responsible for cleaning the roadsides on main thoroughfares. They also have the responsibility of treating the grassed areas of the ball fields at all parks.

Safety:

The US Department of Justice just completed a study of crime in the City of Center Point. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department has provided updated information for 2019 as well as amended information from the DOJ data.   This study is available to read on the city’s website (http://www.thecityofcenterpoint.org/DOJ%20report%20with%20City%20of%20Center%20Point%20reponses.pdf ).  Please state which of the study’s recommendations you would implement first and why.

As stated above I would like to have deputies whose main duties are primarily community relations both in the residential areas and the commercial district. I think they would be a great asset in providing leadership and assistance in our Neighborhood Watch program. They could do this by assisting the city safety committee chairperson with setting up and attending neighborhood watch meeting at City Hall and in the neighborhoods. I think this would give each neighborhood more of a sense of community.

Funding and availability of law enforcement candidates are barriers to public safety in Center Point.  There is a national shortage of police academy candidates, primarily minority candidates as well as difficulty in retaining law enforcement officers once hired.  What would you do to attract additional competent officers/deputies to our City? For those who believe Center Point should have its own police department, how would you fund it (either using existing budgetary numbers or increased revenue from other sources)?

I would continue to maintain a good working relationship with the Sheriff to make certain that the deputies that are assigned to our contract are competent, professional, and have the experience needed to deal with citizens on a one-to-one level. I would like to add additional deputies as they become available. I would like to see deputies whose duties are primarily community relations.

Senior Citizens:

Please list the programs that you are familiar with as pertains to the Senior Citizens Center.

They provide meals on wheels, interactive game activities at the center and field trips. The Senior Fishing rodeo is offered each year. The seniors have celebrations of different holidays, dance each week and exercise classes during the week. During the pandemic, we are providing meals on a drive-through basis for those who can get to the center and delivery of meals to those who cannot. Many classes for the seniors are offered during the year. Safety classes, fraud classes and self-help classes are among the options offered to seniors.

The Senior Center is currently being enlarged through a Community Development Block grant.  With this extra space, what additional programs would you like to see implemented?

The new addition will have exercise equipment for the seniors and can be used for a shelter for the seniors if a storm comes. All exercise classes will be held in this facility.

Candidate Information:

Please provide a short biography that will let people know a little about who you are and your connection to Center Point.

I moved to Center Point in 1967 to become a teacher and coach at Jefferson State Community College where I served as Department Chair for the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation for 33 years. I coached basketball, tennis and women’s gymnastics. I served as Athletic Director for the last four years until I retired in 2000. My wife (Betty) and I became involved in the Center Point Action Committee to help clean up Center Point. This committee eventually resulted in the incorporation of Center Point in 2002. I was elected Mayor in April 2002 and have been privileged to serve as your Mayor since that time.

During the time I have served as Mayor, I have been honored by my peers to be chosen to serve as President of the Jefferson County Mayor’s Association for three terms and Chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Organization for two consecutive terms. I have also served on the Alabama League of Municipalities Executive Committee for many years. I am presently serving as President of the Municipal Workman’s Compensation Fund for the League of Municipalities.

Betty and I have two children who attended Erwin Elementary and Erwin High School.

As you can see, I am vested in the City of Center Point.

Roger Barlow & I were members of the original incorporators of the City in 2002

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