Senior Center project now moving in right direction | Our Opinion | Sept. 17

It’s been some seven years of struggle, but it appears the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center will finally get a “new” building. The initial plan was to build a new structure, then it became an expansion, and now in this time of economic downturn, it’s more of a remodel. Unfortunate, perhaps, but it’s becoming obvious these days that in order to reach goals islanders need to adjust and reevaluate their priorities.

While the project was close to being scuttled earlier this year, a new task force committee – consisting of members of the Senior Center staff and board, Metro Recreation and Park District board and the City Council – has pumped new life into it with the goal of finalizing plans by the end of the year. City engineer Chris Hammer has also been an invaluable part of the drive toward completion of the project.

Financing has been a struggle, but about a half-million dollars has been collected. That includes $250,000 from the $1.9 million in councilmanic bonds raised in 2008 and an other $250,000 matched by the Senior Center. Senior board member Tom Kilbane hopes another $500,000 or so will be “discovered” via grants or other sources during the next year or two.

“We’re disappointed that we didn’t get a new building,” Kilbane said, “but we understand the economics and are comfortable with where we are now. We’re just delighted to be moving forward given the financial bind the city is in. The committee has been meeting for about six weeks and the meetings have been very productive.”

The Senior Center and Commons part of the building, which was essentially three structures that evolved into one over the years, will be remodeled first and followed by the section that was previously used by the county Health Department.

The project has become emblematic of the need for a reawakening of the invaluable community trait of working together for a common good – rather than apart – since the habit of throwing money at a problem is no longer an option.

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