The Edgecliff neighborhood has struggled to maintain its identity in the five years since Pratt Elementary closed. That struggle will be even harder now after the Edgecliff Senior Center, the last community gathering spot, shut its doors last week.
Spokane Public Schools closed Pratt in June 2007. Later that same year the city of Spokane Valley gave $20,000 and a private donor gave $10,000 so volunteers could rent part of the school as a neighborhood center. There was an after-school program, classes, open gym nights and free community movies. The funding lasted until 2009, when the neighborhood center closed. A group of volunteers, all of them retired, started the senior center but that too has closed because of lack of funding.
“A lot of us are sad to see it happen,” said head volunteer Vi Temple. “We were fortunate to have the occupancy at a not very big rate since 2009 because we didn’t have the rent to pay for the whole gym.”
They paid $220 a month to use a portable classroom next to the main school building at 6903 E. Fourth Ave. “Even though the school district was giving us a decent price, you can’t live on nothing,” Temple said.
All activities at the center were free, but organizers asked for donations. The more successful groups drew between a dozen and 20 participants, which is very good for the Edgecliff neighborhood, Temple said.
There was a Meals on Wheels site in a portable classroom next door that helped bring people in, but that closed during the winter because not enough people were coming, Temple said.
A group of dominoes players unwilling to give up their game after the senior center closed gather every Thursday at 1 p.m. in a room donated by the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, 8401 E. Sprague Ave. A knitting and crocheting group will meet in a private home. The Edgecliff SCOPE volunteers will now hold their meetings at Park Place, 601 S. Park Road.
While attendance might not have been high, the senior center held an important role in the neighborhood that will now go unfilled. “Now there’s no meeting place, nothing to keep us together,” said Edgecliff SCOPE volunteer Becky Boyington. “The school was holding the neighborhood together. We don’t have a school. Everybody goes their own way now.”
Temple said she hopes that some younger volunteers will be able to resurrect the senior center in the future. “We tried,” she said. “We did as much as we could.”