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Published: Wednesday, 7/30/2008

Oregon council contracts for design of new center for seniors

BY MEREDITH BYERS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Marge Brown, mayor of Oregon, said it is her dream to see a new senior citizens' center for the city.

"We have to work to make this real," she said.

Now, her dream is on its way to being realized.

Oregon's city council passed an ordinance recently to contract with Munger Munger & Associates, a Toledo-based architectural firm, to begin creating designs for a new and improved senior center for Oregon not to exceed $100,000

Ken Filipiak, the city administrator for Oregon, said he expects to receive designs from the firm in about six months. The firm will submit two or three designs, and then the city will hold another meeting to select a preliminary design.

"We want to give it more of a homey feel," he said.

The new center will cost between $3 to $3.5 million, Mr. Filipiak said. A more accurate figure will be available once council settles on a final design.

Oregon's current senior center, the James "Wes" Hancock Senior Citizens Center, 5760 Bayshore Rd. at Southshore Park, has about 325 members, and also has non-members who come and take and part in the activities. The current center too small for all the activities and functions local seniors enjoy, including aerobics, bingo, line dancing, billiards, and art. The new center will likely be built in a larger, more concentrated and centrally located area.

The process to update the senior center began in late 2006 when the city of Oregon commissioned a survey of the elderly population that was coordinated through the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio, Inc.

About one-third of the city's 20,000 residents are more than 60 years old. Of those surveyed, 76 percent said they think the new senior center is a good idea.

"There is a documented need for a new senior center in Oregon," said Justin Moor, the vice-president of communications and operations for the office.

"Right now, there's definitely a documented need for it in order for the residents to get the services they need," he added.

The center will most likely be built off of Starr Avenue, on city-owned land near the William P. Coontz Complex off Seaman Road.

Mayor Brown has said she envisions a senior center coupled with a community center with a stage for concerts and plays, as well as an expanded Alzheimer's Association Adult Day Center, a place where people can drop off their relatives for a few hours. The center is run by the Alzheimer's Association, a Toledo-based non-profit that runs two centers, at 2500 North Reynolds Road and 131 Wheeling Street, in the area. About 40 people attend both centers daily.

To research the project, Mr. Filipiak said he visited several senior centers in northwest Ohio, including Bryan, Sylvania, Defiance, and Maumee, and chatted with seniors about what they liked and disliked about the centers.

The center will be about 13,000 square feet with multiple rooms and allow for a variety of activities.

Mr. Filipiak said the city will hold several meetings within the next month with Oregon residents to get their thoughts on the center.

Mr. Filipiak said funding for the senior center project will come from the Area Office in Aging, and may seek both state and federal funding for the project. The project may be eligible for grants after the preliminary design is approved and a more realistic cost estimate is available. Mr. Filipiak added that a small, local levy might be sought to help cover the cost.

"We need to look at this and see how much outside assistance we need and try to avoid pursuing new funds," he said.

Contact Meredith Byers at:

mbyers@theblade.com

or 419-724-6101.



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