For the last several years, Oregon officials have been discussing the possibility of constructing a new senior center at a site near the municipal complex on Seaman Road.
The current senior center on Bay Shore Road, a former sewage treatment facility, is outdated and too small.
At a council meeting Aug. 9, Mayor Mike Seferian questioned the availability of a $1 million grant from the Area Office on Aging. In fact, Seferian said he doesn’t know for sure if the agency ever had money available for a senior center in Oregon.
“There was always the belief there was $1 million, and that it could come here,” said Seferian. “It is still possible that somewhere around $1 million could come from the Area Office on Aging. It was rumored that there was money out there in a fund that they could get and bring to this area two to three years ago. And I think it is almost as possible now as it was then.”
The Area Office on Aging, said Seferian, “suggested it may be able to produce $1 million.”
“It was never for sure. They always mentioned it, but never gave any letter of commitment towards that money coming,” said Seferian. “And we’re still told pretty much that same thing. There are some funds available. Whether they can get their hands on that or not is the big question. So we are still entertaining some ideas for the improvement or the creation of a new senior center. We have a couple of ideas out there that may be possible, but until we get more substantial information, we’re just cautiously waiting to see how those things turn out.”
City Council member Sandy Bihn, who for years has pushed for a new senior center, said she heard there definitely were funds available.
She expressed concerns that those funds may no longer be available because of the city’s indecision over a new senior center. Jerusalem Township, she noted, were awarded a $500,000 grant years ago for a senior center only to see it taken away because it took too long to move the project forward.
“Hopefully it’s not lost,” she said.
After the meeting, Bihn said she always believed there was $1 million available for the center.
“I understood there was a million dollars set aside for us,” said Bihn. “I heard that we never signed a letter of commitment, so they never saved the funds, which would make sense, because we can’t make up our mind where we want the senior center to go.”
When the city bought land next to the municipal complex, some thought it could be used as the city’s local share for the $1 million grant, she said.
“At the time, it was said that we would use the value of the land as part of the grant’s local match,” said Bihn, who was on council at the time. “We could have had a decent amount of match from the purchase of the land. Well, it never happened.”
Since then, the city constructed soccer fields on the property, but there is still room for a senior center, said Bihn, near Wolf Creek.
“There’s land in front of the complex that’s available next to the parking lot. They also thought about putting it off of Starr Extension in the back next to the soccer fields,” she said.
The aging Baby Boom population, she said, is going to move to a community that has a strong senior program and complex.
Some people think it won’t make that much difference in the community. But the reality is, if you want to keep your population, and you have more activities for them, the likelihood they might stay should increase,” she said. “We’re losing a lot of seniors out of this community to senior developments and places that have senior activities.”
Bihn said she would like to see an agreement “providing the space that’s needed at the lowest cost possible.”
Former Mayor Marge Brown said at a March 23, 2009 council meeting that the Area Office on Aging had committed $1 million to a new senior center when plans are finalized. She went on to say that former Administrator Ken Filipiak was working to cut costs “so it’s halfway reasonable.”
In 2008, the city hired architect Munger and Munger to come up with a design of a new center next to the municipal building. The design included a 200,000 square-foot footprint of the center, which featured a general purpose room, dining room, kitchen area, storage room, a billiards and quilting area, computer lab space, an exercise room with a bike and a treadmill, fireplace, display area for arts and crafts, and a study/library. Filipiak had estimated the cost at $4 million, which he said was too high.