Groups seek $328,000 for temporary senior center in Girls Inc. building

February 27, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Commission on Aging and Girls Inc. of Washington County presented a proposal Tuesday to the Washington County Commissioners that would provide space for a temporary senior center in the Girls Inc. building on Washington Avenue in Hagerstown.

Under the proposal, the Commission on Aging would use the building during the day until space for a permanent senior center can be found, which could take up to three years, said Susan J. MacDonald, executive director of the Commission on Aging.

"This is a temporary, but very important step on our way to finding a permanent senior center," MacDonald said.

MacDonald and Maureen Grove, executive director of Girls Inc., asked the county commissioners Tuesday to approve $328,000 in the county's fiscal year 2009 budget for the proposal.

The money would pay for a $180,000 lease, which would be paid to Girls Inc., as well as staffing, food costs and $27,000 for furniture and equipment costs, MacDonald said.


If the proposal is approved, the center would open in September and could serve about 50 seniors per day, MacDonald said.

Washington County is the only county in Maryland without a multiuse senior center, MacDonald said.

The Commission on Aging has met several times with the county commissioners to request funding for a senior center in fiscal year 2009, which begins in July.

Tuesday's meeting was the first in which the group has presented a possible location and a detailed budget for the project.

The county commissioners asked several questions, but did not take action on the proposal Tuesday.

Commissioner William J. Wivell said the lease cost, at about $10 per square foot, seemed high.

County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said the average cost to lease a building in downtown Hagerstown is $10 to $12 per square foot and does not include utilities.

The senior center lease cost would include utilities, phone lines and Internet access, as well as use of the building's full-size gymnasium and kitchen and dedicated office space for the senior center's staff.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire said he was concerned that 50 of the county's roughly 28,000 seniors are projected to use the center per day.

"I'm just trying to rationalize spending $300,000 per year to address senior needs, and this will serve up to 50 per day," Aleshire said.

Commissioner Terry L. Baker asked if the Commission on Aging had requested money from the City of Hagerstown for the project. MacDonald said she had not.

MacDonald and Grove said the arrangement would allow senior citizens and children who use the Girls Inc. building to interact with each other through joint programs and classes.

Grove said Girls Inc. serves between 110 and 120 girls per day. The facility offers educational and after-school programs to girls between 2:30 and 7 p.m.

The senior center would be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., MacDonald said.

The Herald-Mail Articles