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Seniors lobby for a new west wing as an addition

Seniors want to see the limited funds available for the senior center focused on renovating the west wing of the building.

A task force of city and park officials and staff, along with members from the Bainbridge Island Senior Center Board of Directors, held a public meeting to elicit ideas from the public on what they want to see done in the renovation.

Due to a dramatically down-graded budget, the renovation is a much different project than was first proposed in 2007. Initially the city was proposing a $9 million expanded facility with a third of the funding coming from the city.

Now the budget is $500,000 with half of the funding coming from the city and the rest from the nonprofit Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center.

The general feeling was that seniors would like to see the west wing renovated, perhaps by completely demolishing it and replacing it with a prefab building, with minimal upgrades in other parts of the building. Several community members hope spending the $500,000 on the west wing will serve as leverage in attaining grants and donations to complete the east wing at a later date.

Seniors generally prefer adding a modular addition instead of renovating the west wing. Decisions will be made depending on what can be afforded within the allotted $500,000 budget.

Because of budget restrictions, the building itself can’t be expanded significantly. The occupancy is restricted because the city would need additional parking, which it can’t afford to pursue.

Some of the other areas discussed were expanding the thrift store, updating the kitchen, adding storage, and improving the safety and appearance of the front entry. Seniors expressed an interest in creating a multi-generational environment, including the addition of a coffee shop run by high school students to get more of the community involved.

Chris Hammer, an engineer from the city’s Public Works Department, said they hope to restore new paint and flooring, renovate the bathrooms and kitchens and reconfigure spaces to be more flexible and functional. Other opportunities include upgrading the lighting and in-house communications.

The task force would like to make its recommendation on renovation plans to the city council by the end of the year. Design and permitting are planned for 2011 with construction beginning in late 2011 or 2012.

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