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Archive for Thursday, November 24, 2005

Library expansion may affect senior center

November 24, 2005

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There's been a lot of talk lately about expanding the Lawrence Public Library and coming up with an additional 400 parking spaces.

But no one's said much about what will happen to the Lawrence Senior Center, the library's neighbor to the south at Eighth and Vermont streets.

The uncertainty has senior center director Jessie Lusher a little nervous.

"I don't think the city will leave us hanging, but the future is uncertain," Lusher said.

The city of Lawrence, she said, lets the senior center use the building at little or no cost.

"They have been very generous," Lusher said.

But city officials, she said, will be hard-pressed to keep pace with the library's and senior center's ever-increasing needs in their current locations.


At the Tuesday Painters gathering at the Douglas County Senior Center, Charlotte Neese, Eudora, foreground left, and Joyce Witulski, Lawrence, foreground right, review a painting of Witulski's. With the city considering building a new library or expanding the current one, some folks are concerned about the future of the senior center located just to the south.

At the Tuesday Painters gathering at the Douglas County Senior Center, Charlotte Neese, Eudora, foreground left, and Joyce Witulski, Lawrence, foreground right, review a painting of Witulski's. With the city considering building a new library or expanding the current one, some folks are concerned about the future of the senior center located just to the south.

Already, she said, parking is a major headache because people using the senior center, library, Chamber of Commerce, SBC, U.S. post office and, in summer, the swimming pool, compete for a finite number of spaces.

Consultants have said the library, 707 Vt., needs to nearly double its current square footage from 46,560 to 73,045 just to meet current needs. By 2025 it's expected to need 128,000 square feet.

Library director Bruce Flanders said there's not been much discussion about moving the senior center or Lawrence Fire Station No. 1, which occupies the west half of the building.

But discussion about the library expansion, he said, is still in its formative stage.

"I do not feel it would be appropriate to displace either the senior center or the fire station without bringing them into the conversation," Flanders said.

Lawrence City Manager Mike Wildgen said he expects both the fire station and the senior center to be "made whole" as city officials work through the process.

The city, he said, owns the senior center building - the former Police Department - at 745 Vt.

The building is not on the city's registry of historic properties, but it's within the downtown historic district. Changes to the building's exterior would be subject to review by the city's Historic Resources Commission.

"We're not going to say 'Well, you're kicked out. You have a year to move,'" Wildgen said. "We've not done that in the past and I don't anticipate it being done in the future."

Wildgen urged anyone concerned about the library expansion and its consequences to participate in the upcoming public meetings: 7 p.m. Dec. 6 and Jan. 4 at the library.

Plans call for the consultants to report to the City Commission in late January.

"We'll go from there," Flanders said.

At the senior center Tuesday, several people said they're more concerned with cuts in services than with being told to move.

"We think we need a better place with better parking, a place where it isn't so cold in the winter and hot in the summer," said Carol Peters, a member of the center's Tuesday Painters club.

"Oh, there's nothing in life that doesn't change," Jim Patti said.

The senior center and its Baldwin counterpart are both run by the Douglas County Senior Services Inc., which also has meal sites in:

¢ Babcock Place apartments, 1700 Mass.

¢ Edgewood Homes, 1600 Haskell Ave.

¢ Pine Crest Apartments, Eudora

¢ United Methodist Church, Lecompton.

The Lawrence center also offers transportation, day care and a wide range of social and educational activities designed for older adults.

About half of Douglas County Senior Services' $1 million-a-year budget comes from Douglas County; the rest is from a mix of state and federal funds, grants, fees and donations.

Comments

Sigmund 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm sure Boog will simply "Ban old people."

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