The Astoria Senior Center is looking at some significant improvements as a result of a Community Development Block Grant for $1.5 million dollars that has been approved by the Business Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority and by the Astoria City Council on Monday evening.
The grant would allow for the aging center to upgrade electrical service, install an elevator giving easy access to the building basement where a new kitchen will take shape. That kitchen facility will be the new home of the local senior meals program, loaves and fishes which also operates meal on wheels. Building structural and roofing repairs along with heating and plumbing improvements are part of the rennovation plan. The Senior Center has committed $20,000 for those items not covered by the grant such as kitchen equipment and dining furniture and according to a memo from city staff, the Senior Center is currently fundraising to meet that goal. The grant was accepted by the council and the construction will take place in September with completion in the Spring of 2014. Astoria resident Jean Dominey asked if there is also a plan in place for the eight months the work will be taking place to ensure Seniors will have someplace else to go for that time and she asked for a legal agreement between the Senior Center and the city that the facility will always be used as a senior center. She expressed concern that once the rennovation is completed the city might consider selling the property at some point down the road.
City Manager Paul Benoit said that he has great confidence in the Senior Center Board of Directors and that they are addressing the temporary relocation issue. He said the grant comes with restrictions that would prevent the city from using the building for anything else for a period of six years. He said anything further than that is in the council's power to grant.