City of Beaumont senior center location questioned, unchanged

City of Beaumont senior center location questioned, unchanged

During a work session in a regular Beaumont City Council meeting Wednesday, Nov 12, city officials and council members reviewed and discussed the proposed Best Years Senior Center Project. During a presentation on the new facility and its location beside the Event Centre in downtown Beaumont, J. Rob Clark, principal architect at Architectural Alliance Inc., along with his team showed the council and attending citizens the projected new center and its surrounding amenities.

The floor plan for the approximately 21,000-square-foot center includes several rooms for various art programs, a game room, gym, computer room, a gift shop and several other spaces that can be used for different kinds of clubs and classes. Storage space, something Clark said is a problem after talking with current Best Years patrons, is also abundant with the new plans.

“We spent some time over there, and walked around and talked to the center members,” Clark said in his presentation. “There were boxes in the hallway, and it became apparent that storage was a concern.”

Surrounding the center, a splash pad, pavilion and depot are also included in the master site plan that was presented. Three citizens spoke of lack of parking at the facility, at which point Mayor Ames questioned Clark and he responded, “We have four or five options to include more parking at this location,” Clark said. “There will even be a drop-off covered awning for buses or cars.”

Councilman Mike Getz inquired about possibly changing the location and even developing new plans in the interest of his constituents.

“I’ve talked to some citizens who think the center would be better suited at the old YMCA building in the West End,” Getz commented after the presentation.

Mayor Becky Ames acknowledged and welcomed input regarding the vacant building located beside the soccer fields off of Dishman Road but expressed concern about the underdeveloped street leading to the location, lack of public transportation to and from that area, and the time and money needed to revise new architectural plans.

“I always encourage the citizens of Beaumont to come to us with their concerns and ideas,” Mayor Ames said. “At the same time, I was elected to this position to make decisions on behalf of the city’s interest.”

When Getz asked whether the matter should be put on a referendum in the May 2015 election both Councilman Audwin Samuel and Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Alan Coleman said they were satisfied with the way the Best Years Senior Center was being directed and didn’t see a need to change.

“I am not interested in the relocation of the senior center to the West End,” said Samuel. “I think we should continue on the path we are headed (at the Event Centre).”

The mayor asked the council if they had any comments on the subject, or if the matter should be voted on in 2015 and all were silent.

Councilman Getz said he wasn’t against the building of the senior center downtown; he just felt an obligation to express the concerns of his constituents.

If built at the proposed location downtown, an E-library and rooftop café might also be added to the new center for extra convenience.

The Best Years Senior Center offers a number of services and activities to more than 3,000 people a month, services such as aerobics, Zumba, ceramics, crotchet, jazz & tap, and intro computer classes, just to name a few.

A new Best Years Center has been in planning for more than 10 years and more recently with the purchase of the property beside the Event Centre. The council unanimously voted last year to use about $4.5 million from the bonds the city sold for a variety of improvements, including the development of the new Best Years Center at the vacant lot.

City Council will finalize its plan for the Best Years Senior Center at a later date.