Search for senior centerWorthington City Council makes move toward community center
WORTHINGTON — The search is on. Again. In what might be the most concrete move yet toward establishment of a permanent community (senior) center, the Worthington City Council agreed on Tuesday to pursue two possible locations for the project.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The search is on. Again.
In what might be the most concrete move yet toward establishment of a permanent community (senior) center, the Worthington City Council agreed on Tuesday to pursue two possible locations for the project.
City staff will meet with county representatives, who had earlier shown some support for development of a joint library, senior center and fire station facility, to see if and when such a project would be viable.
Meanwhile, staff will also meet with the Worthington Area YMCA board to discuss possible purchase of the former YMCA facility.
“This has been dragging and I’d love to get some resolution,” said Alderman Mike Woll, the council’s representative on the Community Center Board.
He said the board expressed a “reserved interest” in exploring the YMCA option, which would mean demolition of most of the existing structure. The gymnasium and racquetball courts would be left in place and a 4,200-square-foot senior facility would be built.
“The gym would be for large events, big groups, square dancing, or a possible partnership with the ‘Y,’” Woll said, and the 90 children in the Southwestern Minnesota Opportunity Council’s Head Start program could continue using the gymnasium facilities. Mayor Alan Oberloh questioned whether private day care centers could be allowed to use it as well. The gym could also serve as overflow space for large senior gatherings, such as ladies card nights.
“My only impression of this is this space might be a little small for the seniors,” Alderman Scott Nelson said.
“I don’t think we should get hung up on what an addition to the facility might look like,” Oberloh said.
Alderman Mike Kuhle said the YMCA option could fill a hole in the downtown.
“This could (cost) a lot less than building a new building,” he added. “But programming is more important than the location or the building. I’m just not interested in putting money into it just for pool and cards.”
The council faces some time constraints with either option: the former YMCA building has at least one other potential tenant; and the Campbell’s Soup property being considered by for a proposed joint county-city facility must have an established public use by 2012 to qualify for government funding.
The city’s involvement in any type of joint facility with the county appears to be at a standstill until all members meet and determine a timeline for the proposed project.
“We really don’t know yet what the expectation is of us in any joint facility. Do they think we’ll build it? Do they expect us to pay for 50 percent of the maintenance?” questioned Oberloh. “Our ongoing costs could be more in a partnership than in a stand-alone facility.”
Woll said City Engineer Dwayne Haffield had also raised concerns about the viability of including all three entities in one facility.
“I hate to abandon this partnership,” Alderman Lyle Ten Haken said. “I don’t want to pass up long-term opportunities for short-term gains.”
The council must also consider what any facility would cost in the long term.
“Unless there’s a redevelopment project there’s really no grant opportunity out there,” reported Director of Community/Economic Development Brad Chapulis.
A third option suggested would move senior programming to the YMCA for now, and later rent out the facility for revenue if the opportunity arose to pair with the county library later.
At a special meeting Monday evening, the council also approved the federal Economic Development Administration grant modification to include supplemental in-kind support of the city in the amount of $193,436. That number would increase the city’s contribution to the incubator and training and testing center to $603,000.
The city had received a response from the federal EDA indicating that its application for $779,887 for construction of the Southwest Regional Bioscience Training and Testing Center/Incubator was still being actively considered.