Senior Center prioritizing cost in search for new location

March 2, 2024 | 12:11 am

Updated March 2, 2024 | 1:15 am

Cost will be a primary factor in finding the new location for the Senior Community Center, according to a survey conducted on senior residents of Owensboro. Officials are open to any possible location, but they know it’s not going to the former Towne Square Mall.

Executive Director of the Senior Center Becky Barnhart said that over 475 respondents filled out a survey asking what values and priorities users have for the new location. Nearly half asked for a more central location for the new facility, while only 16% of the respondents said they wanted the new location to remain on West 2nd St.

Many responses indicated that the new location is not on Hwy 54, with some pointing toward the former Towne Square Mall. Barnhart said that is not a location the Board of Directors is evaluating.

“To be honest, many of us thought it sounded like a great option. However, after looking at the site and meeting with the property management company, the Senior Community Center Board realized it wasn’t a viable option,” Barnhart said.

They noted the lease, ongoing maintenance, construction and build-out costs as primary deterrents.

“Regardless of where the new center is located, the Senior Center will have to embark on a capital campaign,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart said that patrons are looking for both active and passive activities. Some programming requests included a walking track, pickleball courts, a community garden, and classrooms for lessons.

Non-members also had a chance to weigh in on the survey, with about 39% having never attended the Center. Many who didn’t attend cited they felt ‘they’re not old enough to attend’ the Center as well as location, services and activities as major obstacles — even though over 75% of poll takers were 60-79 years old. The Senior Center serves residents who are 60 years and older.

If age and location weren’t a deterrent, Barnhart said the survey also showed seniors lives are busy as is, and they aren’t ready to attend quite yet. But those that do attend regularly, about 60% of the poll, reported several plus sides to their membership.

“They come for friendships, socialization, exercise classes, dances and many other activities that are offered at the Senior Center. ‘It’s a way to get out and be with people my age,’ said one respondent,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart said the results from this survey are being shared with City and County officials to help provide a framework for the Board moving forward.

During a Board retreat on Monday, several Board and Senior Center staff members expressed a desire to find and build a new location.

“The City is working to get the Senior Center a new building, and the first thing we need to do is get that done. I know everybody is anxious about that, but we’re working hard to make that happen,” Board Member and City Commissioner Pam Smith-Wright said Monday.

The conversations to get the Senior Center have been ongoing for some years, most recently coming to a halt after they opted not to join the YMCA in a joint renovation of the Y’s Kentucky Parkway location in July. The discussion returned in February when a Board Committee met with the City of Owensboro.

March 2, 2024 | 12:11 am

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