Jake Berg/staff photo 
                                Bula Daw reads aloud during the creative writing group offered by the Redmond senior center. Due to the closure of the senior center, the creative writing group has been meeting in City Hall on Tuesdays.

Jake Berg/staff photo Bula Daw reads aloud during the creative writing group offered by the Redmond senior center. Due to the closure of the senior center, the creative writing group has been meeting in City Hall on Tuesdays.

Envisioning the future of the Redmond Senior Center

With the help of community input the city can begin to design a senior center or expanded center.

The city of Redmond continues to gather community input to decide the future of the Redmond Senior Center.

A status update of the senior center was given during a city council meeting on Feb. 11. The update included the vision for the future of the senior center and the community’s input in regards to the four renovation options up for consideration.

The first round of community outreach has ended and as of Feb. 11, there were about 250 completed online surveys. Some 80 people attended public meetings and about 50 comment cards were submitted. The city also held briefings with the Senior Advisory Committee, a group of about a dozen seniors who helped guide the best way to achieve community engagement.

After the first round of input, the community has favored options B and C. Both options suggest demolishing the building and rebuilding on the same site. Option B states the building will be the same square footage, although option C allows for a bigger building with more space and a phased partnership option.

“So far from that first round of public input, we’ve been hearing some pretty strong input about not wanting to renovate, but wanting to rebuild, and wanting to either rebuild a senior center or an expanded center,” said Carrie Hite, parks and recreation director for the city of Redmond.

“People have not been interested in the partnership piece,” Hite said. “It’s mainly because the partnership piece might delay our timeline. That’s a little bit harder of a puzzle to put together and it might take too long to do that.“

The consensus of the community is to expedite the process and get a new building up as soon as possible so all senior center events can be in one location. As a result of the 2019 investigation report and being forced to vacate, the senior center events and activities have been moved to various locations around Redmond.

“I think overall, what we’ve heard is the urgency to get something done and open because the senior programs are displaced,” Hite said. “We’ve also heard pretty loud and clear: Definitely senior dedicated space — whatever option — and definitely looking at future needs and uses for the community. Those two were very high in that first round of public input.”

The senior center has been closed since early September due to exterior structural issues. In November the parks department brought the investigation report to the city council. That report said the structural integrity on the outside of the building was compromised and key structural supports would have to be rebuilt in order to re-open.

The city icluded the senior center mid-life improvement project in the Capital Investment Program and set aside $15 million for the renovation.

In addition, the city also has been working with the Redmond Community Stakeholders Group to go through the input and analyze it to bring forward a recommendation to the city council.

“We will be going to council with the recreation stakeholders,” Hite said. “There will be two or three of them that are spokespeople for that group on March 24 as a study session with the council, and at that study session we’re hoping to give them some idea of what the community weighed in on. Then on April 21, we’ll be back to the council for a decision and a policy direction.”

The goal of the city is to get a facility open to the public in three years or less depending on the decision. A renovation of the existing building in a two and a half year time span or demolish and rebuild in the three year time span.

According to Hite, the city is asking for community involvement throughout the design process as well, to be sure the community’s needs are being met.

“We would just love to hear from the public about what their needs and desires are for this space,” Hite said.

Learn more and answer the online survey to be part of the community outreach program online at www.letsconnectredmond.com/rsc.

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