Senior center issue deserves prompt action

It appears there is a consensus in the city of Marquette that something needs to be done in regard to the senior center, although that’s where the agreement ends.

A senior center study done by U.P. Engineers and Architects presented to the city commission this week identified three options for the center. Included were: No. 1, build a new facility at an estimated cost of $1.25 million; No. 2, renovate the existing center in the lower level of city hall for about $673,000; and No. 3, move the center into Lakeview Arena at an estimated cost of $585,000.

Following much discussion, the commission voted 5-2 to accept the study without setting any priorities or a direction to head in, which didn’t set well with all of the commissioners nor community members who were in attendance.

Voting with the minority, Commissioner Mike Coyne in particular urged fellow commissioners to set priorities now, saying local seniors deserve a new center. In addition, he said he believes residents of the city would support the project, which would undoubtedly be needed with the costs involved.

Those cost estimates are significant, and probably played a role in the commission not wanting to rush into a project.

However, Marquette resident Colleen Roberts, a senior who uses the senior center, was representative of many members of the public who spoke at the meeting, saying that the current center is dilapidated and in need of upgrading.

She also said there doesn’t need to be a major overall right from the beginning, but some basic upgrades – such as bathroom renovations, painting, some basic sprucing up and installation of wireless Internet access – could be done for a lot less money and would make the facility much better.

We agree with Coyne and Roberts and urge the commission to at least take a position on the issue and start the ball rolling in that direction.

And for the time being, it sounds like a few minor projects at the center could be done to make it much more comfortable and enjoyable for area seniors.

The Mining Journal