By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Plans for the new Wood County Senior Center – and its new price tag – were unveiled Wednesday.
The schematics showed a building more than twice the size of the current senior center, with more space for programs, an adult day care area, and a community storm shelter.
Originally, it was estimated the new senior center would cost about $4 million. However some unexpected issues led that price tag to jump up to $6 million.
“We’re proud to be able to roll this out to the community,” Ben Batey, president of the Wood County Committee on Aging Board, said Wednesday. The board viewed the preliminary building plans – designed to meet the growing needs of local seniors – created by Duket Architects.
The new 35,000-square-foot senior center will be located at the site of the former school administration building between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street.
The new facility will replace the 14,500-square-foot center currently housed in the 104-year-old building on North Main Street that formerly held the post office.
The new senior center will have between 80 and 100 parking spaces, will have one-story and two-story sections, and will be designed to fit in with the early-century residential area in which it will sit.
“We tried to design the building to fit the community,” said Jerry Voll, of the architectural firm.
The first floor of the senior center will have two main entrances covered for weather protection. There will be a dining and multi-purpose room, five activity rooms of varying size, public restrooms, skylights to let in natural light, and an elevator.
The first floor will also have a lounge area that may double as a library, with a gas fireplace, and coffee.
Also on the first floor will be an adult day care space, with its own entry.
“I’m personally really excited about the adult day care concept. That doesn’t exist in Wood County yet,” Batey said. The Alzheimer’s Resource Center in Toledo has offered to provide the day care services.
There will be outdoor patios off the multi-purpose room and off the adult day care.
The second floor will have room for administration offices, social services, activity rooms and office space for the BGSU Optimum Aging Institute, which will be teaming up with the senior center at the site.
“Our students will be here. They will interact, they will learn,” said James Ciesla, dean of the BGSU College of Health and Human Services. “Any dean or director of an institute would envy this.”
The basement will have a storm shelter with direct access for the community. The storm shelter could hold an estimated 360 people, Voll said.
The next step will be to get public input on the proposed building plans. Meetings will be scheduled for community discussion.
“This isn’t something we want to do in a vacuum,” Batey said.
Artist renderings of the new facility will be on display in the senior center, so users of the facility can study them.
Then the next step will be starting a capital campaign, which is being studied now.
The price tag for the facility increased when it was discovered that the entire footprint of the old school administration building would have to be excavated, The original plan did not include a basement. However, since the area had to be dug out anyway, it was decided to include the storm shelter and basement storage.
The original plan also didn’t include the adult day care space. However, the need was so great that it was added as well.
“We didn’t want to be short-sighted,” Batey said. “The older population is continually growing.”
The building project has already secured $1.6 million from the state, thanks to local legislators. State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, was present Wednesday to view the plans. “To see what’s coming together is really awe inspiring,” she said.
In addition to the state funding and a capital campaign, the senior center officials also plan to approach the Wood County Commissioners for assistance.
The building project has the Committee on Aging leadership in an unusual position. “This agency has never carried a debt,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the agency. Niese said she expects ground to be broken next spring.
“Raising all the money is daunting,” said board member Dr. Tom Milbrodt. “But I think it’s doable.”