New-look council hits the ground running on community/senior center

NEW TRACY CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS Ron Koopman (left) and Seth Schmidt take the oath of office during Monday’s city council meeting. Photos / Per Peterson

By Per Peterson

PAM COOREMAN was sworn in as Tracy’s new mayor Monday. This is Cooreman’s second go-around as mayor — she was appointed to the position in January 2018 to succeed Steve Ferrazano, who left his seat to accept a judicial appointment in the Fifth District.

A new-look Tracy City Council discussed a familiar and important issue at Monday’s meeting: finding a place for Tracy’s senior citizens to gather.

Ever since the sale of the Multi-Purpose Center to the Plaid Moose in late 2020, talk of where the seniors will go has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue. And on Monday, one of the new council members spoke out about the importance of finding a temporary place for seniors while talks of a permanent home continue.

“Are we gonna put a timeline on this — I think it’s gone on long enough,” said council member Ron Koopman, who was sworn in Monday, along with fellow council member Seth Schmidt and new mayor Pam Cooreman. “I think we need to get a timeline on this. We’ve been talking about this for how long now? We need to get a place (for seniors) to meet again until we find out where we’re gonna go.”

Koopman said when the pandemic goes away, the City needs to be ready to react with a plan for a permanent facility for seniors, who were displaced by the sale of the MPC.

“I can’t give you a timeline, because I can’t tell you what the governor’s going to do,” replied Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen. “Nor can I tell you when the pandemic is going to end. I can’t tell you how soon the vaccines are distributed. I can’t tell you when the transmission rates are going down. I can’t tell you any of these things — that’s why we can’t give you a timeline.”

Hansen said he and EDA Director Jeff Carpenter continue to work to solve the issue, so when things open up to normal, the City will be ready to respond.

Council member Jeri Schons said the council needs to focus on two things: Where can seniors gather during the time between when pandemic restrictions are lifted and a new building is constructed, and what is the timeline for a permanent facility.

Hansen agreed: “In the short run, we’re gonna need to have a place for people to go,” he said.

Before the contract between the City and Lutheran Social Services ended, Hansen said finding a place was more difficult, because a kitchen was needed. Now, with LSS renting space in Balaton, that isn’t an issue.

“We’re gonna go back to some of the (options) we had talked about,” Hansen said. Those options include United Methodist Church, space in the Plaid Moose, where the original senior center was, The Caboose and the basement of the Tracy Public Library.

“The easiest thing would be to do the basement of the library, because it’s a nice space, it has tables and chairs,” Hansen said. “It might be a decent temporary solution. It has stairs, but it does have a wheelchair lift. And it wouldn’t cost us anything; we’d have to pay rent in any other space.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.