New senior citizen center option surfaces
A new location has been proposed for the Perham Senior Citizen Center: A rental unit within the Ma's Little Red Barn complex. Ten seniors attended the Perham City Council meeting Oct. 9 to show their support for the Ma's location. And--they also ...
A new location has been proposed for the Perham Senior Citizen Center: A rental unit within the Ma's Little Red Barn complex.
Ten seniors attended the Perham City Council meeting Oct. 9 to show their support for the Ma's location. And--they also registered their opposition to a proposal that would incorporate a senior center into the Perham Area Community Center.
"We took a vote recently, and 19 of our seniors were present," said center president Evelyn Berger, a 95-year-old regular at the senior center and its noon meal program. "We asked if any supported the PACC location...not one hand went up."
That show of hands reflects the irony of the situation: For nearly a year, city officials have been studying options for a permanent senior center. One solution was to launch a much-needed expansion of the PACC, and incorporate a senior center into the project. Problem: The current patrons of the senior center don't want to be in the PACC.
The firehall has served as the senior center for the past two years; but it was intended to be only temporary.
Two petitions on the senior center matter were also presented to the city council. One petition had 40 signatures from people opposing a move to the PACC. A second petition was circulated at the PACC, to seniors who presently use the PACC for fitness and other programs. It was signed by 29 seniors, who said they would not likely participate in the senior meals program or the center's activities--even if it were located at the PACC.
One of the theories underlying the work of the task force was based on the future. Stating it bluntly: Time marches on. Most of today's senior center patrons won't be here 20 years from now. The seniors of the future, Baby Boomers who don't view themselves as "aging," are more likely to patronize a center with a diverse range of activities--such as the PACC offers. Will jigsaw puzzles, card games, Bingo, arts and crafts, and quilting be enough to sustain Baby Boomer seniors with short attention spans?
On that premise, it made more sense for the task force to broaden the concept of a future senior center.
But, there are "junior seniors" and "senior seniors," explained Harold Locken, who was opposed to the PACC concept. He described himself as a "junior senior" who still works out at the PACC and leads a fairly active lifestyle. When he becomes a "senior senior" he is more likely to prefer a quieter, less active environment--such as the present senior center.
"Our group is smaller, but still significant," said senior center director Linda Fossen. Most of our seniors are past the 'working out' stage."
For seniors at the upper age level, the PACC is an "idea ahead of its time," said Fossen.
Though current attendance for the noon senior meals averages around two dozen, it would increase with a permanent center, said Locken.
According to the seniors, other issues with the PACC concept include:
- inadequate parking
- too much congestion
- the entrance is shared with young people rushing in and out
- the $1.2 million cost of a PACC addition is too much; however, the task force has contended that the price tag should be considered as a larger, more comprehensive PACC expansion not just a "senior center addition" to the PACC.
"If the center went to the PACC, most of us would just fade away," said wheelchair-bound Winnie Gunderson, who would not likely utilize the center if it were incorporated into the PACC.
But the intentions of the task force and city officials are good. And, the vision for the future is realistic. "We wanted a senior center that would be more available to all seniors... and the PACC was one of concepts to involve more seniors," said Councilman Jerome Boedigheimer.
At this point, there are no specifics as to what rent would be at Ma's--or how it would be paid, though it would likely come from the city's general fund. Also, there are other questions and details that need to be examined with the Ma's location, including building a kitchen within the proposed space, noted Councilmember Anita Mycke.
The council listened intently to the seniors' comments. No action was taken, but the discussions will continue at the task force and committee level.
Fossen said that she had a holiday wish list: "Can we be home for Christmas?"
Given the wide range of issues and opinions, Santa probably won't be delivering a new senior facility by Dec. 25.