Work on New Washington County Senior Center to begin around April 1

January 20, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • Joseph Kroboth III spoke with members of the Washington County Commission on Aging on Friday afternoon about plans for the new Washington County Senior Center to be located on the campus of HCC.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Construction of the new Washington County Senior Center at Hagerstown Community College is tentatively slated to begin around April 1 of this year and be completed in May of 2013, a county official said Friday.

“The senior center, as you all know, has been a long time coming, a long time under development, and we believe that we have a lot of the tough challenges behind us, which is typically allocating or programming the funding,” Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III said at a meeting of the Washington County Commission on Aging.

“All those pieces are coming together, and this project will become a reality in the very near future,” Kroboth said.

The county advertised for construction bids in December and may be able to award a contract at the Feb. 28 meeting of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, he said.

Meanwhile, the mix of funding sources for the $5.85 million project remains unsettled as the county waits to see if $800,000 in proposed state aid for the project is approved.

The commissioners voted in September to cover that amount with county funds up-front, so the project could proceed, with hopes of recovering the money from the state later.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget proposed this week includes $800,000 in state funds for the project.

If approved, that contribution would reduce the county’s share of the project cost from $4.9 million — about 83 percent — to about $4 million, or 70 percent. Other project funding includes $250,000 in foundation grants and a $672,000 federal grant.

“The state of Maryland funding is still questionable at this time because it’s simply been submitted as part of the governor’s budget,” Kroboth said. “We’re a long way away from the governor’s budget actually going through.”

To make sure the state funding, if approved, can be used for the project, officials are holding a strategy meeting Monday morning to ensure the project meets all requirements for use of state funds, he said.

If major changes are needed, that could push back the timetable for awarding a contract and starting construction, Kroboth said.

He also showed renderings, floor plans and a model of the senior center. The building will have a gymnasium, a smaller fitness room with cardio equipment, a kitchen, a cafeteria-style serving area, a dining and multipurpose room, a computer lab, meeting and activity rooms, and offices.

The Commission on Aging offices will move from their current location on West Franklin Street to the upper floor of the senior center.

The annual debt service and operating costs for the new senior center should be about the same as the annual cost for the current aging commission offices and temporary senior center at Girls Inc., Kroboth said.

He also fielded several questions about the center’s accessibility. The building will have its own parking lot, and the building entrance will be only a curb-height higher in elevation than the parking lot, with a ramp provided, Kroboth said.

The loop for drop-offs in front of the building’s entrance will be large enough to accommodate vehicles as large as coach-size busses, he said in response to another question.

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