08/29/11 — Senior Center work will be slower

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Senior Center work will be slower

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 29, 2011 1:46 PM

Wayne County Services on Aging will have to wait a little longer than first anticipated before moving into its new quarters in the former Sportsman's World building on East Ash Street.

Officials had hoped to move by late fall, but it now appears more likely to happen next spring or summer. The delay will give the county more time to prepare for future expansion of the building.

Wayne County's commissioners in May approved buying three buildings at 2001 Ash Street at a cost of $1.495 million to house Services on Aging. Another $800,000 to $1 million will be spent on renovations. The county will pay for the buildings and renovations in cash, County Manager Lee Smith said.

Initially only the Sports-man's World building will be occupied. Nash Printing and Wayne Pregnancy Center occupy the other two buildings and will pay the county rent.

Services on Aging currently shares a former bank building with the Day Reporting Center on South John Street. The center is expected to expand to fill the vacancy that will be left by the move.

"The (Ash Street) building is in good shape, it is just that we are having to add the amenities inside of it to handle larger numbers of people," Smith said, noting that the senior population is growing.

The county had thought it could make more use of existing mechanical, electrical and plumbing at the building, said Sue Farmer, the county's facilities director.

"The extent of the project and what we want to do for them to be able to give them some room for expansion in the future is just going to be too confining (to use the existing plumbing)," she said. "We had rather do it right this time around and have that expansion possibility instead of giving them something that they can't expand on."

Because of the extensiveness of the plumbing as well as the engineering and mechanical aspects of the project the county will hire an engineer to oversee the work.

Once the project is completed, Smith said he expects to see more interest in the center from seniors.

"I can foresee our Services on Aging program exploding, which is a good thing. We could have a lot more people and that means I have got to have an adequate number of bathrooms. Sue and I can't afford, let's say, I get the thing approved for 200 people and the all of a sudden I have 300. That means that you can't take them. So I need to use every square inch of that building, maximize the lavatories and bathrooms.

"Plus we are doing things like preparing for a commercial kitchen in the future -- getting the space ready. Not necessarily building it, but having the space ready for those kinds of things. If it takes another 90 days to do that that is a smart move."

The building will also include a large common area.

"We have respite care and a congregate meal site and that has to meet all of the requirements for environmental health and those are big issues," Smith said. "Plus this is going to be a meeting area and we are discussing use of the facility on weekends and at night where we can possibly rent some of those spaces and have Wayne Community College here. That is changing things a little bit so we have had to think about it a little deeper.

"Talking with (Services on Aging Director) Eryn (McAuliffe) and looking at her numbers, her program, we could probably serve what we have now. But look at the Census. The Census shows that our greatest and fastest area of growth is in those over 60. That means I will have more people. It is gong to triple, possibly and that being the case I need to prepare for growth in that building."