The Redmond Senior Center (RSC) has closed for structural assessment. The city released a notice on Sept. 6 stating the center was closed and vacated to allow for the ongoing investigation of the building’s interior and roof.
The problem was first discovered in June, when a 4-foot by 12-foot citing panel — weighing somewhere between 500 and 600 pounds — fell off the back exterior corner of the building. The city contracted a structural engineering firm for further assessment and inspectors confirmed “extensive structural damage to the exterior walls and substantial impact to both the lateral and gravity systems.”
“We don’t anticipate the [assessment] being completed for the next two months,” said Carrie Hite, Redmond parks and recreation director. “They’re going to do extensive testing on the exterior and the interior of the building. We’ve made no decisions at all, as far as the future of the center. The decision point will be after the two-month [assessment].”
According to Hite, the RSC project was outlined in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the last two years. The center’s mechanical systems, roof and building exterior are scheduled to be replaced in 2021. Fifteen million dollars was set aside for the RSC project.
Hite addressed the public at a Sept. 11 cookies and coffee event at the Redmond Community Center at Marymoor Village. There, she explained the situation and welcomed public comments and concerns.
At the event, various seniors expressed their concerns about their programs and classes.
Hite and other department staff said they have been working hard to relocate all programs, rentals and classes to alternative locations. Locations include City Hall Bytes Cafe, the community center and surrounding Eastside senior centers. Rachel Van Winkle, parks and recreation deputy director, said they are reaching out to community partners to relocate other programs and classes.
“Almost everybody still has their place to come and do the thing they love and that was our goal,” said Teri Burke with the parks and recreation department. “We know that everyone has their thing they love to do. We did everything we could to make sure that happened this week and will continue to happen in one way or another. Give us a little patience. We really are working on it.”
Hite echoed Burke’s comment and said they are trying hard to pull all their resources and facilities together to relocate the senior center programs. Although it’s not ideal or a concentrated place for everybody to go, Hite said they are moving programs and classes to locations that are accessible. The department, along with the city are also working on finding solutions for transportation for seniors.
RSC volunteer Ellen Englehart said the center is a central part for seniors in the community.
“It was kind of a shock but I believe the city is going to do what they need to do for us and I think eventually we’ll be alright,” she said.
With programs and classes being dispersed around the city and beyond, Sashi Ravikumar, an RSC regular, said traveling to the different locations will be time consuming.
“It takes a lot of time to commute from one place to another,” she said. “The process is a little stressful. We go to the senior center for many things. It sounds like many will not be able to make it and they will be missing out on the company.”
Eileen Englehart, another regular, explained that they want something separate from the community center or City Hall.
“We want a senior center,” she said. “We want our own place.”
In a discussion with Englehart, Ravikumar and others, seniors expressed their frustration amongst each others. Many said the re-locations of programs were going to be stressful and most importantly, they are going to miss out on the connection with others.