Two dozen residents filled part of the VMC gym Monday for an important city council study session
By Per Peterson
One came bearing a homemade blueprint of what he envisions a new community/senior center looks like. Another had in hand a long list of activities that have been lost because of the pandemic and subsequent sale of the Multi-Purpose Center.
They, along with a number of other speakers, had one common goal at Monday night’s city council study session: to keep the momentum of building some kind of new center going.
“We realize baby steps have to be taken, but we don’t want you to stand still in preparing a new building for us,” said Vera Anderson, who pointed out all the events and fundraisers that took place at the MPC in the past.
Because of strong public interest, Monday’s study session took place in the gymnasium area at the Veterans Memorial Center. Folding chairs, placed 6 feet apart, surrounded a makeshift council dais, and the public was given a total of 30 minutes to participate in the discussion concerning either the long-term or short-term solution to the ongoing issue of where seniors in the community will be able to gather.
The most recent talks have turned toward a remodeling of the building that was once home to the municipal liquor store on South St.
“I have some reasons to be a little hesitant abut the remodeling of the old liquor store,” said Ken Witt. “When you’re remodeling a building, there always seems to be some unseen costs that come up, and things always end up costing more than what you think.”
Mark Evers, who owns a chiropractic business on 3rd St. addressed the council, saying that he has land available to the south of his building that could be considered an option, if the City were to decide to construct a new senior center.
“You have street-side parking, you have parking on the corner, it’s downtown where you’d like to have it,’ said Evers. “This would be just for a senior center. I think it’s a good spot, and I wanted to make sure everyone knew that that was available.”
Evers said he would sell the land to the City for a small amount.
“It cost me some money a while back; I’d like to at least get my money back,” said Evers.
Another option that was brought up Monday was leasing space at The Caboose. That option had been talked about at previous meetings as well, but the discussion never has gained much momentum.
Resident Khou Lor stressed the importance of creating space the whole community can benefit from — today’s residents, as well as generations to come. She said a silver lining in the debate over the center is that it has given many people a chance to have their voices heard.
“There’s a reason that so many of us are in this room — we all care about this community and we do want to see something come forward for this community, whether that is for our seniors or our younger generation,” said Lor. “I think this effort has given us an opportunity to voice our concerns and share what we feel for this community. I truly love our seniors and appreciate them, but I also think that a good part of a community is the younger generation as well.”
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.