A number of senior citizens spoke out against a possible move of the senior center to the VMC at Monday’s city council meeting
By Per Peterson
Senior citizens in Tracy want nothing to do with the second floor of the Veterans Memorial Center. That was the key takeaway from Monday’s Tracy City Council meeting, in which about a dozen seniors attended.
A number of them spoke directly to the council, urging it to pump the brakes on the project of moving seniors and others to the VMC and further investigate other options.
The Multi-Purpose Center downtown, which has been closed since March because of COVID-19, is being sold by the City to make way for a new restaurant, the Plaid Moose, which successfully operates in Slayton. Although nothing has been finalized yet, Plaid Moose owner Pete Beerman met with the EDA board last week to discuss his plans, and City officials have long expressed a desire to get new businesses in the downtown area.
But while the new restaurant seems destined for 3rd St. the question on the minds of many in town is, where will the seniors go?
The council recently threw its support behind the City looking into what it would take to transform the second level of the VMC — above the police office — into a new senior center. To date, the only hard and firm number that has been brought to the council is $82,953 for a lift.
However, lift or not, seniors aren’t buying into the prospect of being moved from their home at the MPC to the VMC.
Tracy senior Vera Anderson gave an impassioned speech about what the senior center means to her and her peers by reciting a hypothetical situation if the seniors are moved to the upper level of the VMC.
“Here we are, we’re playing cards … here come the guys, they’re coming for coffee. Oh, there’s sparks, what’s wrong? Now there’s a full-fledged fire. I’m in a bad situation. If I tried the stairs I’m gonna be trampled. I can’t use the lift, because you don’t use that or an elevator in a fire,” Anderson said. “Oh my God, I am the last one down. But I can’t come back to tell each and every one of you that you signed my death certificate. That’s how I feel.”
Anderson said the City and council need to work with all seniors to find out what they desire and find a way to build a new community center or move the seniors to the ground floor of another building in town.
“Senior citizens have no business in a second-floor setting,” she said.
In reading the second part of a letter penned by Shirley Anderson, Becky Averill said the amount of all the donations to the MPC over the years, roughly $100,000, should be returned to the citizens of Tracy and be put toward a new building.
“It seems there is a big rush to move the MPC, but we don’t need to rush through this,” Averill said. “What good is it going to do if you remodel this and rush it through and people are not going to go up there or utilize it? It will be a waste of money. This is a wrong decision for our community. We need to investigate this further. This project should be stopped. Moving forward with other options should be researched.”
Chuck DeVetter said his son, who has been an architect for more than 30 years, told him a senior center should not be put on the second floor of any building. After DeVetter spoke, Cleone Richardson echoed the others in saying a second-story option is not the way to go.
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.