An overflow crowd gathered in the Edmonds Senior Center ballroom on Tuesday afternoon to hear Senior Center officials kick off a campaign that could mean a new Senior Center building as early as 2017.
“This is the first meeting to discuss the possibility of a new building,” said Patsy Ethridge-Neal, Board of Directors President. “We’re still very early in the process, and we will be having regular meetings to keep the membership updated.” The next meeting is planned for March.
Executive Director Farrell Fleming stressed that while the idea of a new building has been in the works for some time, a number of factors including the current favorable economic situation present a golden opportunity to move forward now.
The existing waterfront facility at 220 Railroad Avenue, built in the early 1960s, has serious structural problems including a sinking first floor, inefficient design and seismic concerns.
The Senior Center began in 1968 when two buildings, a two-story warehouse and a single story former boat showroom, were used as a venue for their programs. The City of Edmonds acquired the land and buildings in 1972, and in 1980 the two structures were connected to form the 28,000-square-foot space occupied by the Senior Center today.
“In 2007 our Strategic Planning Committee had three independent professional engineers look at the building and develop options,” said Fleming. “All three agreed that refurbishing the present building would be too costly.” He went on to explain that to just level the first floor and do the necessary seismic upgrades would cost $3 million (2007 estimate). This leaves “band aiding” the current building as it deteriorates further, or building a new Senior Center as the only viable options.
“For the next five to six months we’ll be doing a feasibility study,” Fleming said. “This will address preliminary concerns including legal considerations, necessary agreements with City, architectural options, a fundraising-capital campaign, and community input.” Pending the outcome of this, the Senior Center could then move forward with siting, design, permitting, etc.
While it’s still early in the process and much is left to be decided, some decisions have already been made.
“Our ultimate goal is to build a new state-of-the-art ‘Edmonds kind of senior center’ on the current site,” said Fleming. “The structure will be sited and designed to take full advantage of the magnificent views.”
If all goes without a hitch, the new Edmonds Senior Center could be ready for use as early as 2017.
— Story by Larry Vogel