In the cloud hanging over attempts to renovate and expand the Senior Center, a silver lining has appeared – a $7 million allocation in next year’s state budget.
Michigan’s $76 billion budget passed Friday morning, a happy day for touting included projects and politically honking the horn on “partnerships.”
It is music for our tired ears.
This silver lining meets a silver tsunami that strains the seams of our senior resources. Our region is unique because not only is it aging (like Michigan as a whole), but it is also growing. The area continues to attract outdoorsy and active retirees who want to be involved in their community and aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves.
These guys got the ball rolling by finding a place to connect in 1969, when the Traverse City Senior Center was born out of a request to hold activities in the Traverse City shuffleboard pavilion. It was remodeled in the 80s, but fundraising for a bigger and better facility began in the 2000s.
Yet more than two decades and many miles, drawings, studies and fundraisers later, the Senior Center continues to deteriorate – even as the Senior Center Network attracts 50 new members per month.
The city-county control issues — Grand Traverse County manages and operates the network of senior centers that operate in the park and the Traverse City-owned building — didn’t show our representatives the best, even though the taxpayers continue to renew the mileage of the network of centers for the elderly, which brings in more than $500,000 annually. The Senior Center was also the No. 1 choice in a survey indicating $18 million in ARPA funding from the county, and the city was to make a mileage proposal to cover the $8 million in construction debt next week.
It’s too late for some. Several seniors spent their last years trying to improve the facility, their legacy is written in testimonials of the importance of the senior center in providing connection and activity, in donated funds, in devoting time to public meetings and weekly demonstrations aimed at the movement and cooperation.
And we don’t want it to be too late for others, because governments will have to cooperate in this next happier phase of downtown reconstruction. If money was the problem, then $7 million should go a long way to solving it.