Dream for a new Senior Center soon to become realityBY AMY CODISPOTI | JOURNAL REPORTER This month, the Lake Stevens Senior Center received word that they were awarded a $200,000 State grant to use toward creating a new building or renovating the house on their property on Soper Hill.
This state funding will be combined with a $110,000 federal community development block grant the city received in 2005 for Senior Center renovation and a $50,000 grant received in 2006 to upgrade the center’s kitchen.
The news comes as a long-awaited blessing to all the seniors who rely on the center and a welcome surprise to the city council and the center’s board members who have been working over the past five years to see this happen.
“This is going to enable us to move forward and make a nice facility for the seniors,” City Administrator Jan Berg said. “It enhances what we would have been able to do with just the community development grant.”
While the seniors currently meet in a building located near City Hall in downtown Lake Stevens, it’s too small for the approximately 60 seniors who are at the center each week and lacks adequate kitchen facilities, said Senior Center President, Joyce Bell.
“The space is also a community center, not solely the Senior Center and it doesn’t have a commercial kitchen, so we’re somewhat limited,” said Bell. “We’re very excited to have our own space. We’re literally growing out of our current location.”
Twice every week, the center offers free hot lunches to local seniors who come to visit with friends as much as they do to eat. With little sitting room to spare, Bell feels that many more seniors would come out to enjoy the lunches if there were more seats to offer. But, without a commercial kitchen to prepare the food in, the center is unable to do much more than it already is.
Recognizing the Senior Center’s urgent need for more space and adequate kitchen facilities, Police Chief Randy Celori spent many months working as a liaison between the Senior Center Board and the city, county and state.
“I’ve been working on this since 2005,” Celori said. “Earlier this year, I went with the mayor and the city administrator to meet with Senator Hobbs and submitted a request for additional funding. We also met with Hans Dunshee and John Lovick and asked for their support.”
Celori said he was relieved when he learned that the funding was approved.
“We’re all going to get older, and it’s important to provide seniors with options in our community, so they can stay active and socialize with other seniors,” he said.
Celori also said that the city is leaning toward the option of purchasing a modular building.
“To renovate the house would take a lot of extra work,” he said. “To get the most bang for our buck, we’ll go for the modular which will offer two and a half times the space we’d get out of the house.”
Berg said that a modular would be better suited for the center, as it would offer the ability to be specifically designed to meet the center’s needs.
As the funding was originally determined for renovation, the city is in the process of working with grant analysts to convert the grant so it can be used for erecting a new structure.
Celori said the goal is to have the ground broken by September.
“Once that happens, its just a matter of days to get the modular on site,” he said.
Once the building is complete, Joyce Bell said the Senior Center will be happy to have the room to welcome more seniors to join the bi-weekly lunches and to expand the offered activities. She said she envisions the new Senior Center being a comfortable place where seniors can come relax, inside by a cozy fireplace or outside on the lawn, and visit with friends and be involved with peers.
“Everyone’s got different interests and needs, so we’d like to be able to include more options,” she said. “We’d like there to be something for everyone.”