12-31-20 Cain Center.jpg

FILE photo

In June, construction workers began to prepare the Cain Center for its new look. The completed project could be done by mid-summer 2021.

Monday, Dec. 28, marked four years since one of Athens' most visited venues closed its doors for a major overhaul.

Although at times, since 2016, it appeared the Cain Center may never see a new beginning, the revamp is now headed for a mid-2021 completion.

"Where we stand today, the decisions that have to be made now are like color selections, finish selections and things like that," Mayor Monte Montgomery said. "It's an ongoing process."

After much debate over whether the city could afford to remodel and operate the facility, the Athens City Council put together a steering committee in late 2018, to go over every aspect of the project and determine what saving could be made in the construction. It also called an election to determine what the residents wanted to do with the Certificates of Obligation the city had remaining for the project.

In May, 2019, the voters, by a wide-margin, authorized the city to spend up to $5.4 million of the Certificates for the renovation.

With $2.5 million grants from the Murchison Foundation and the Cain Foundation, the funding was in place to proceed with the project.

A recent development is the $100,000 contribution the Athens Economic Development Corporation made toward construction of the center.

AEDC Director Joanie Ahlers indicated the they might be able to help with maintenance and operations of Cain Center along the way. The $100,000 contribution helped AEDC meet to legal requirement to be able to offer such help.

"I think the real driving force on that was the wisdom of Cliff Bomer, who is the past Cain Center board president, and is on the AEDC board," Montgomery.

Bomer knows the needs of the Cain Center and also knows the rules of the EDC, Montgomery said.

"If you help with the construction, you can help through the years with funding other issues," Montgomery said. "If you don't help with the funding of the construction then you can't utilize EDC funds."

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