Now, waiting for a bond vote
From toddlers on a new playground to octogenarians enjoying a Dinner Date, the newest potential addition to Project Awaysis in Storm Lake assures that the destination park would see no generation gap in its effort to meet community needs.
On Wednesday, board members of the Buena Vista County Council on Aging, the group that owns and operates the Storm Lake Senior Center, decided unanimously to accept a tentative offer from the city government to move into a new Senior Center within the Awaysis project area. A final decision will wait until the public bond issue vote on February 8, which will provide an important component of the funding package for the $30 million Awaysis lakefront development.
"The discussion was that if we do not take the city's offer, we don't know what we are going to live on next year and beyond that to keep the current center operating," council spokesperson Marvin Molitor told the Pilot-Tribune after the meeting. "Everyone felt the best option was to take the city's offer."
City officials have proposed to build a site for the senior center in the area where a current steel-roofed picnic shelter near the campground is expected to be removed, the seniors said.
The building would be provided for the seniors' Dinner Date gatherings at no charge to the council, Molitor said, and could be used for other community gatherings in the evenings and on weekends.
The city has shown a tentative floorplan to the seniors, showing a fully accessible building that would allow for up to about 100 people to dine, slightly more than the current center allows. Parking for about 40 cars is expected on-site, resolving the perpetual problems seniors experience in searching for parking spots in the current busy downtown area.
"Everyone seems to think this is the way to fly," Molitor said of the proposal, noting that the current building is aging, and repairs to the roof and mechanicals have bitten deep into the savings that support the center.
There is some concern that a few of the current Dinner Daters who live in walking distance of the downtown site may not be willing to find alternative transportation to the site in Sunrise Park. "A lot of people don't care for change, and I'm usually one of them," Molitor said, "but change does come anyway."
Molitor said that the seniors will have to now hope for a positive outcome to the bond issue vote, in order to make sure the project moves ahead. "I've heard a few people say they don't agree with Awaysis. We'll be hoping those are the people who don't turn out to vote on February 8th."
Despite concerns over the ending of the on-site meal operations by the Northwest Iowa Aging Association, the turnout is holding up under the new system of catered meals prepared at a local restaurant.
"Our numbers have been pretty good. The cold snap will keep some people home, and others are snowbirds during the winter, but yesterday we had 35 people," Molitor said. "We need to keep up our yearly average, which is 41 per day."