Planned Senior Center Relocation Runs Into Opposition
Park City Municipal announced in a press release on Monday that a new Senior Center will be built at 1260 Park Avenue adjacent to the skate park and across from the library. The announcement has taken some members of the senior community by surprise.
An in-person drive through meeting is scheduled Thursday from 1-2 at the Park City Senior Center.
Virtual Zoom meetings are scheduled for Thursday (tomorrow 3-4 p.m.) and Tuesday, July 2 at 9 a.m.
The press release outlines the plan to build a state-of-the-art senior center which will meet the growing needs of Park City’s senior population. The new facility would be a temporary home with the city and county working to identify a permanent location in the future. The City is ready to begin design work immediately with plans to begin construction in the spring of 2021.
The validity of a 99-year lease from 1976, at 1361 Woodside, is in dispute. In January, the Save Our Senior Center Committee voted to remain in that location if possible.
Now, the area is slated for the development of the City’s Woodside Phase 2 affordable housing project.
Cheryl Soshnik says there are several concerns they have about the proposal. She says currently they have exclusive use of the senior facility and a lease that lasts another 50 plus years. She says they’re concerned about the proposal presented on Monday.
“It’s really not a permanent facility and they won't give us any kind of written assurances,” she said. Every time we talked to them they said we're going to have an interlocal agreement with the County and they said you can use the building. And this is not going to be a Senior Center. This is going to be a building that the city builds, that we can use a couple days a week and then the rest of the time they can use it for whatever purpose the city needs to use. And that's not acceptable to us either.”
Soshnik says with the growth in the senior population, prior to COVID-19, they were offering more programs and they’ll want to continue that going forward.
“We were blind-sided,” she said. “I don't know what they're trying to do. We were told not to have the public come and talk to them again like we all did in a City Council meeting last fall when we overwhelmed with about 80 to 100 seniors and everybody had their different opinions. And then they said no we don't want you to do that. We want you to have a committee to negotiate with us. You represent the seniors. Out of the blue they come up with this plan that we actually saw six months ago. And we rejected it six months ago until we could work on these things that I talked about.”
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman says the city wants to meet the needs of the growing population of seniors and to expand services. According to Beerman, the City has met with the Seniors for years and Council member Nann Worel frequently attends lunches at the center. He says nothing is set in stone on the proposed project and one of the options is not to move forward with it.
“I have to say we were blindsided by the fact they hired a lawyer and wanted to suddenly make this about the lease when we had always felt like we were working in good faith toward a solution,” the mayor said. “And their lawyer threatened damages and demanded a response by the end of July. So, the City, we all scrambled to move things up so we could have a community discussion.”
Beerman says about six months ago a handful of new people got involved, and they were elected to form a committee, bringing new voices to the conversation.
“We were surprised when they wanted to go the legal route,” he said. “We hope that they'll stand down on that and focus again, not on the lease but the needs of the seniors and how we can give them the assurances we want. I think it's kind of silly to say we're going to build them this building and we're going to make a commitment to the community, only so we could throw them out of that. And we've talked about different mechanisms giving a particular group 100-year lease on a public building is not something the City Council does. That doesn't mean we aren't willing to make a long-term commitment to our seniors.”
Beerman says there are other programs that are currently sub-let out of the Senior Citizens Center. With the new building, he says the City will work with the Seniors on programming the space.
“The building they’re going into is being purpose-built for the seniors and they will have specific lockouts. And we have not discussed with them or sorted out whether there might be other community groups that use that building when they're not using it.”
Beerman believes there are many citizens, including people who will eventually age in, who want to be engaged in finding a future home for the center.