'Wait and see' on new Senior Center
City officials are proposing to create a new senior citizens center within the Project Awaysis development, and a spokesperson for the local seniors organization feels the offer may prove to be a good one.
"We have talked with the folks at the senior center. There is nothing definite yet, but we want to work with them to determine their needs and how we could incorporate answers for them into Awaysis," said Justin Yarosevich of the city staff.
"Is it is a possibility? Absolutely," he said. "We sure hope it will work out, and we think a senior meeting place would fit in very nicely there."
Tentative proposals call for a new community building to perhaps replace one of the planned cabin sites near the lakefront, in roughly the area where the steel covered shelter now stands near the campground.
"That area will become a place where everyone wants to be," Yarosevich said.
Marvin Molitor, a spokesperson for the committee that oversees the Storm Lake Senior Citizen Center, says that city officials have offered the new site rent free. While seniors would have their Dinner Date events and social gatherings there during the day, the building would be available for other community gathering uses at night and on weekends, he said.
"I have a wait and see attitude on it. We need to see it getting built first, and that's probably a couple of years off at least.
"I think we need to hear more about what it would look like and how accessible it would be."
Molitor said he has some concern that if the seniors don't accept the city offer, the modest but significant amount of funding assistance the city has given to the center each year could be in jeopardy for the future. City officials say that are not trying to force the issue in any way, but only making the option available if the seniors want it.
On the plus side, the seniors would have an assured meeting site in the midst of the impressive Awaysis development without worrying about building repair, and both sides hope such a move could eliminate the constant parking availability problems that have dogged the senior center downtown for years. "Our building is also getting older," Molitor said of the existing site, owned and operated by the seniors group itself.
On the down side, there is some concern that some of the seniors would not go with the change, or some that might now be able to walk to the downtown site might not be willing or able to access transportation to the lakefront location.
"It sounds like it might work out, but we will have to wait and see," Molitor said. "I've been told that a couple of people from city hall came to the center one day and that most of the people they spoke to liked the idea. But some of the ones I have talked to after that weren't that excited about it. I think there are some mixed feelings."
Meanwhile, the seniors appreciate the attention that the community has brought to the center.
Following articles about the end of the Northwest Iowa Aging program to cook meals in the senior center, and the cut in funding that came with it, groups like the local Realtors, Rotary, Jaycees and Wal-Mart have stepped forward to share some funding with the senior center, which is helping balance the budget - at least for the current year. Molitor hopes to soon have the kitchen equipment sold, which will also help offset the lost funds.
The new meal program, with the food picked up and brought to the seniors at the center, has not worked out badly. "Most of the people seem to be satisfied with the meals, but well, we still liked our cook," Molitor said.