Core membership has issues with Senior Center location

Users also upset about misleading fundraiser for new furniture
By Dan Aznoff | Mar 14, 2018
Photo by: Dan Aznoff The lamps have not been unwrapped, and the furniture has not been arranged inside the new Mill Creek Senior Center on the ground floor of the Vintage senior community, 4111 133rd St. SE. The official grand opening has been scheduled from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday, May 10. The scope of programs at the center will be managed by city staff and the property owners.

The bright ground floor area set aside as the new home for the Mill Creek Senior Center has problems with access to the building and potentially dangerous health concerns for the elderly, according to frequent users of the current location near City Hall.

The grand opening for the new Senior Center in the lobby of Vintage at Mill Creek off 132nd Street SE is not scheduled until May 10. However, potential patrons of the new location of the city-sponsored facility have concerns that go beyond the construction tape that blocks the front door.

“The city is calling the proposed space our new forever home,” Geraldine Koch said with a laugh. “There will be literally zero street parking for people driving from the center of town. The underground parking is already flooded. What spaces that are available will be taken by people who live in the upstairs apartments.”

Rita Vasquez, Geraldine’s friend, was less diplomatic. She said the building will “inevitably” have problems with mold from the standing water that will pool under the structure.

Vasquez complained that seniors were being moved away from City Hall to free up more office space for the city and to make more square footage available to lease at a profit for the city.

Koch said the current location on Main Street makes it convenient for seniors to shop in Town Center when visiting the center.

“Now they’re trying to put us way out in the boonies,” Koch said. “Apparently they just don’t want us around.”

The Senior Center will maintain the Conversation Café and walking groups in the current space on the second floor of City Hall North.

The Vintage of Mill Creek is an upscale senior community for people aged 55 and over. The Senior Center space is on the first floor of the complex. The ceremonial grand opening of the center has been scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Vintage, 4111 133rd St. SE, Mill Creek.

Both women were concerned the city will continue to control educational programs at the new Senior Center, specifically workshops on the benefits of medical cannabis.

The women are convinced City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto instructed Police Chief Greg Elwin to end cannabis education at the Senior Center. Both city officials denied the accusations, repeating their only concern was with marijuana products in the same city building that also houses a childcare center.

“If that’s the case, the city should have no problem with cannabis classes at the new Senior Center,” Vasquez said. “But apparently that will not be the case … for whatever reason.”

Terry Schuler, the program director at the Senior Center, said she has no plans to offer cannabis education at the new property in accordance with the city’s moratorium on marijuana products enacted by the City Council.

“Our concern (is with) this (specific) presentation at the Senior Center’s current location,” Elwin told The Beacon. “No conversations have occurred related to course offerings after the move.

“Once the Senior Center moves to their new location at Vintage, those decisions will be left to the Senior Center and their new landlord.”

Koch and Janice Anderson said they also were “insulted” by the premise of an ongoing fundraiser to help furnish the new Senior Center by using an emotional plea based on the needs of a long-time member of the senior community.

The fundraiser, according to Schuler, is being held to pay for a comfortable chair and a desk that will be dedicated to longtime volunteer Joan Buxton. But the beneficiary of the fundraiser, according to Koch, has no plans to “ever set foot in the new center.”

Koch described the fundraiser as “just another deception by City Hall using Joan as the poster child to pay for something that should come out of the city coffers.”

The Mill Creek Senior Center began as a vision for the community in 1972. The center was originally located in a space shared with the extension office of Washington State University in McCollum Park and eventually into a space in City Hall shared with the Parks and Recreation department.

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