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Monmouth Senior Center expansion is within reach

MONMOUTH — The Monmouth Senior Center expansion has been trimmed from an estimated $800,000 project to $300,000, and is two-thirds of the way toward happening, said City Manager Scott McClure.

Monmouth Community Development Director Mark Fancey explains the layout of the proposed expansion during a meeting of the senior center advisory board Dec. 17.

Photo by Emily Mentzer

Monmouth Community Development Director Mark Fancey explains the layout of the proposed expansion during a meeting of the senior center advisory board Dec. 17.

December 23, 2013

MONMOUTH — The Monmouth Senior Center expansion has been trimmed from an estimated $800,000 project to $300,000, and is two-thirds of the way toward happening, said City Manager Scott McClure.

The city began the expansion idea looking at community development block grants, he said. But projects using these types of grants must meet specific requirements regarding income levels and age.

"If we accepted that grant … no one could enter the facility under 60 — ever," McClure said. "People couldn't come to the senior breakfast. Grandma's having an art show couldn't bring the grandkids."

That didn't fit with the idea that the senior center doubles as a community center, he said. Grants were available for community centers, but then stipulated that only residents of Monmouth could enter the facility.

That wouldn't work either, McClure said, since 60 percent of the people who use the center are from Monmouth, 25 percent are from Independence and 10 to 15 percent are from other areas.

An expansion is needed because the senior center has outgrown its existing space, he added.

"Most people think they sit around and play bingo," McClure said. "Well, they do, but they have a huge amount of classes as well."

The center partners with Chemeketa Community College and Western Oregon University to bring in classes on memory, technology, managing money and dealing with chronic pain, to list a few.

"There's not enough space," McClure said. "There's too many people at once."

It is not uncommon for classes that won't fit in the senior center to be held in Volunteer Hall, he added.

The original idea was to expand east toward Warren Street and south toward Clay Street. Part of the expense of the original plan was due to the way the roof is laid out.

The new plan will go east toward Warren and south just a tiny bit, McClure said.

The center is located at 180 S. Warren St.

With the reduced cost, people became re-energized about the expansion. Friends of the Monmouth Senior Center raised $100,000 toward the project. The senior center advisory board asked the city council to donate $100,000, and it agreed.

Now city officials and senior center volunteers are seeking the remaining dollars through other grant sources, such as the Ford Foundation, said Mark Fancey, community development director.

The new design addresses out-of-date, noncompliant bathrooms as well as security and storage issues, said Pat Ohlsen, senior center advisory board chairman.

Cement ramps around the building are not required to make the building ADA assessable, which will save the project money, he added.

"This makes more sense and solves security issues," Ohlsen said at the Dec. 17 advisory board meeting. "Plus, there's room to add on at a future date if we need to."

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