Spokane Valley City Councilman Arne Woodard wants people to consider the possibility of moving the senior center.
On May 10, the City Council talked about potentially relocating the Spokane Valley Senior Center, which occupies about 15,000 square feet in CenterPlace Regional Event Center. The city lets the Spokane Valley Senior Citizens Association use the space for free.
The City Council debated Woodard’s idea after discussing the potential of outsourcing operations of CenterPlace. The city may hire a contractor to run the facility, which loses roughly $400,000 a year.
Woodard said he doesn’t think the senior center is an efficient use of CenterPlace.
“This is not an anti-senior comment – but that isn’t where the senior center should be,” he said. “I’d like to provide them with something better.”
Woodard said he’s not sure CenterPlace meets seniors’ needs and pointed out there’s no regular bus route that takes people directly to the facility.
If the Valley created a new senior center closer to City Hall, possibly on the vacant property along Dartmouth Road between Appleway Boulevard and Sprague Avenue, seniors could access it more easily, Woodard said.
The relocation concept has not gained traction among seniors or City Council members.
Mayor Pam Haley said the existing senior center works well.
“I don’t see any reason for them to move, that doesn’t make sense to me,” Haley said. “Unless they want to move I have no desire to move them.”
City Councilwoman Brandi Peetz said finding a new location doesn’t seem like a good idea. CenterPlace is already underused, she said.
“It’s not like we have people knocking down the door to take over that space,” Peetz said.
Larry Murdza, president of the Spokane Valley Senior Citizens Association board of directors, said no one’s talked with his organization about the possibility of moving.
Murdza said he doesn’t think transportation to CenterPlace is a big problem, despite the lack of a dedicated bus stop close to the front door. Most seniors drive themselves, he said, plus the Spokane Transit Authority’s paratransit buses help seniors get in the building.
“We know what we have here; we like what we have here,” Murdza said. “There’s absolutely no desire on anyone’s part to move.”
Spending city dollars on a new facility when the existing senior center works well would be wasteful, given the facility works well, Murdza said.
“I can’t imagine that the voters would like to see taxpayer money being spent on another senior center when they’ve already paid for this one,” he said.
City Councilman Tim Hattenburg said even if seniors did want a new facility, it would be hard to find one. Property prices are at record highs and it’d be a challenge for the city to come up with the money to either buy or construct a new building.
“There’s nothing nefarious about my comments or my thoughts,” Woodard said. “I’m just trying to come up with the best combination of things for everybody involved.”