An Oak Ridge board has recommended that the city’s senior center be located at the Civic Center and Alvin K. Bissell Park, and the board will ask the City Council, possibly in April, to consider $50,000 for conceptual studies.
The Oak Ridge Senior Center is currently located in a county-owned building on Emory Valley Road. It’s been there since 1999.
Some senior center users have been advocating for a new home for years, arguing that they didn’t voluntarily leave the former Wildcat Den (the Midtown Community Center) and that their current home has a number of deficiencies. But despite those efforts, the senior center remains on Emory Valley Road.
The current effort to find a new home has been under way since last year and picked up in January, said Linda McGhee, senior programs recreation manager in the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department.
On Monday, the Oak Ridge Senior Advisory Board discussed four sites that could be used for a new home: the Civic Center, which is in central Oak Ridge; the current facility, which could be purchased by the city for $1 at the end of its lease with the county; the former YWCA Building on Oak Ridge Turnpike; and the Pine Valley site, the current home of Oak Ridge Schools Preschool on New York Avenue. (There is an effort under way to possibly move the preschool to a new home at Elm Grove Park in east Oak Ridge.)
During their Monday meeting, Senior Advisory Board members discussed property sizes, maintenance and renovation costs, building conditions, and parking spaces, among other considerations.
They favored the Civic Center site. It’s in close proximity to the Civic Center itself as well as the Oak Ridge Public Library and Alvin K. Bissell Park, McGhee said. Board members pointed out that the indoor pool is also available, especially during the day, and so are walking trails.
The Civic Center is in generally good shape, and most meetings there are in the evening, said Bob Smallridge, vice chair of the Senior Advisory Board. Some parking might be needed, but there could be savings in personnel and operating costs in the city-owned and -operated building, Smallridge said.
McGhee said some Senior Center activities could be in the Civic Center, particularly in the daytime, but some might require dedicated space.
Board members briefly discussed how they might avoid scheduling conflicts with other events at the Civic Center and A.K. Bissell Park, such as the Secret City Festival in June and summer youth programming.
The Senior Advisory Board will draft a letter to City Council, which Council could consider in April, McGhee said.
The SAB set up a nonprofit organization a few years ago to furnish a new Senior Center, and a feasibility study was done around 2011-2012, McGhee said.
The current board set up subcommittees to discuss the four sites considered Monday, and they evaluated the “pros and cons” of the sites.
See more information about the four sites here:
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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