Senior Center Could Bring Money to Ward Park
City officials are saying that locating a new Senior Center in Ward Park could help bring money for improvements to the park.
“[Ward Park] has always been on the backburner to something else in the city," said Mayor Arthur Vigeant. "This is going to elevate it ... to the top of the list of the projects.”
Having a diversity of buildings will help speed up the timeline for getting money to improve the park, as well as pushing the park improvements up to the top of the list, he said.
Councilor Matt Elder spoke about the benefits strictly within the city. Having the center located at the park transforms improvements there into a city-wide issue, he said. It will be easier to funnel city funds there when it is a project every councilor can support.
“It’s my opinion that this is going to put more money into the park," said Elder. “This is going to put a focal point on Ward Park.”
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It will not only help with getting funding to the site, but moving up the timeline, he said. The city's Parks and Recreation Commission has already released the land for the Senior Center to the city from the grounds of the park.
"Five to seven years in government speak is probably closer to 10 to 12 years,” said Elder in reference to the timeline related to a master plan developed for the park.
A master plan of the park was created last year using funds from cellular towers in the area. The senior center would take up a location that had been penned for basketball courts in this master plan, said Public Works Commissioner Ronald LaFreniere.
The study was completed only using $17,000 of the $30,000 allotted to the project, he said. This master plan could be updated for "short money" and incorporate the Senior Center, said LaFreniere. He agreed that locating the Senior Center at the park would ease finding funds to get the work done
“When you incorporate other types of facilities there are opportunities from a grant standpoint that might not exist for strictly a recreational facility," said LaFreniere.
Ultimately, it is about working through the issues to get to something everyone can be proud of, said Mayor Vigeant.
“I think this is where we are going to end up having the senior center and I am looking to move this process forward. It is not something that is being shoved down anyone’s throats," he said citing other locations that had never gained traction in the city.