02/19/12 — Wish list for county's new senior center on agenda

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Wish list for county's new senior center on agenda

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 19, 2012 1:50 AM

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Bids for the $1 million Wayne County Services on Aging building -- the former Sportsman's World on Ash Street -- are expected to go out within the next 45 days. The move will create nearly twice the floor space of the existing center and will provide more parking.

Wayne County commissioners will hold a workshop session Tuesday on the design-build approach for the county's new Services on Aging building.

Bids for the approximately $1 million project are expected to go out within the next 45 days.

Tuesday's session will begin with an 8 a.m. agenda briefing followed by the regular session at 9 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

A public hearing will be held at 9:15 a.m. to meet requirements should the county decide to file for a Community Development Block Grant. The hearing will review regulations, eligible activities and proposed uses.

A second public hearing would be required prior to the county submitting an application.

The county last May purchased the old Sportsman's World building and two outlying buildings for nearly $1.5 million. Only the Sportsman's World building -- with $1 million in renovations -- will be occupied initially. Nash Printing and Wayne Pregnancy Center occupy the other two buildings and will pay the county rent.

Wayne County is the only county in the state authorized to use design-build-- a team approach that includes the architect/engineer and contractor working together on a project from design to construction. The state is using it for construction of some segments of the U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass.

Construction is expected to take about nine months and the move from the smaller downtown center could take place by next fall, county officials estimate.

The move will create nearly twice the floor space of the existing center -- from 10,000 to 19,000 square feet -- and will provide a more than 80 parking spaces instead of the limited on-street parking now available downtown.

The workshop comes just a week after Services on Aging Director Eryn McAuliffe presented commissioners with a wish list of what her department and senior citizens wanted to see in a new senior center.

Two public hearing were held and visits made to several senior centers to see what works and what could be improved upon, she said.

Most of the items on the wish list center around a desire for more space and parking.

"Every (senior center) director that I spoke to said you need a drive-through that is covered so that a senior getting out of a car would be protected against the elements," she said. "The other part is the parking. I imagine you all know the seniors are very unhappy with the parking that is available to them at the current senior center.

"It is not that Goldsboro doesn't have public parking. There are public parking lots, but the seniors feel it is too long of a distance to carry their supplies or if you are using a walker or wheelchair to go from one of the public lots to the center. They definitely want more parking and they need more handicapped spaces. When I found out where it was I actually drove out and counted. There are actually 80 parking spaces."

A second issue at the existing center is the lack of restrooms, she said. One has to be shared and there is a need for a handicapped accessible restroom, she said. Also needed is a companion restroom that would allow someone to assist a person who might be in a wheelchair, she said.

Also in the wish list is a larger recreation room with pool tables that could attract more men to the senior center, she said. Also wanted is a larger computer room where a Wayne Community College instructor teaches classes.

"It also would allow people from the AARP tax program to help with tax preparation for seniors, a free program," she said. "We would like to have a dedicated arts and crafts space. A lot of the seniors like to do arts and crafts. We have sewing. We have painting. We have jewelry making. But they are all scattered around the center because I don't have any space to put them so I get paint on the meal site tables and the classes get interrupted as someone walks through to get to another area. Things go missing because there is no storage and no locked spaces."

Fitness is an important aspect for senior citizens and a better fitness room is needed with treadmills, bicycles and other equipment, Ms. McAuliffe said.

"We have one, and it is used a lot, but it is very crowded," she said. "It is hot because there is not a separate thermostat. We would like to have what is called an exercise room. That would be a larger open space for my line dancing classes. We are going to offer Zumba.

"We have a lady from the Family Y who comes and offers chair exercises and chair yoga. Now when we do those activitie,s we have to fold up the meal site tables. There are still people getting their coffee and walking through."

Also needed is a bigger meal site, she said. Currently 75 to 90 lunches are served daily, nearing the center's maximum capacity, she said.

Services on Aging offers a respite program for caregivers who care for people with Alzheimer's disease or other memory problems. Respite care gives the caregiver a break, while involving the patient in activities at the center, she said.

She said she would also like to see a "nice fenced-in" area were people with memory issues could safely be outside to enjoy gardening or just the sunshine.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners will consider two one-lot subdivision plats. The first, owned and developed by Phil E. Britt, is located at 1120 O'Berry Road just east of Grantham School Road in Grantham Township. The second, owned and developed by Charles Norwood Anderson, is located on Dollard Town Road, just west of Ditchbank Road. Both have been recommended for approval by the Wayne County Planing Board.