Old city hall could become new senior centerThough the Farmington City Council has not officially made up its collective mind, chances are good Farmington’s seniors will get a larger place to gather for fellowship and activities.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Though the Farmington City Council has not officially made up its collective mind, chances are good Farmington’s seniors will get a larger place to gather for fellowship and activities.
There’s a chance that Farmington’s teens will have someplace to go, too.
In November, council members will decide whether to relocate the Rambling River Center, Farmington’s senior center, to the former Farmington City Hall site on the corner of Fourth and Oak streets. To the more than 30 senior citizens who attended a city council workshop Monday, the move makes good sense. Most council members are inclined to agree.
All the same, the question remains whether a teen center will be included in the building’s future plans.
A larger home
Back in the early 1980s, Farmingon seniors, with the help of what was then the city’s housing and redevelopment authority, raised money to buy and renovate a vacant building at the corner of Third and Spruce.
Farmington’s population was less than 5,000 then. Now, there are nearly 21,000 residents. The Rambling River Center, as it is now known, has a membership of approximately 320. About 92 percent of the members commute from various parts of the community.
Rambling River Center coordinator Missie Kohlbeck said the current building is getting to be too small for the programs that are scheduled. At times, noise from one event will disrupt another. And with so many members commuting, parking also becomes an issue.
The center’s current building needs some renovation, as well. The heating and cooling system needs to be updated, there is mold on some walls, and some of the exterior concrete around the building’s base is eroding.
The former city hall has some issues, too — it also needs cooling and heating work, and it does not have a full kitchen for the CAP Dining program — but its square footage and multiple rooms would allow for several programs to go on at once.
In September, one cost estimate put the needed renovations at city hall at more than $636,000, but the city got a second opinion Monday that put the cost at $447,000.
It is possible the Rambling River Center members would be interested in doing some of the renovation work or conducting fund-raisers to help defray some of the costs, Kohlbeck said.
“They’re really proud of that building,” Kohlbeck said. “Ownership of a project like that makes you a lot prouder of it.”
By council direction, Herlofsky will put out a request for proposals for a project manager in the next couple of weeks, then bring that back to the council in November.
While three of the four council members present were in favor of using the building for Rambling River Center, member Steve Wilson was not so quick to agree. Though he agrees it would be a good location for the senior programs, he pointed out the city still has no place for teenagers to hang out.
Kohlbeck said teens were a consideration when it came to planning use of the old city hall. By using gates in certain areas, they would be able to section off part of the building for senior programs and keep the younger generation in other areas. Noise issues would be addressed with scheduling, as most senior events are during the day, and the teen center would be open at night and on weekends. Plus, some intergenerational programs could be planned to bring the youth and seniors together.
Council members have verbally agreed to using the old city hall as a senior center, but no official agreement has been made at the council table. Staff will do some additional work on the proposal and bring an update to the council at the Nov. 3 meeting.