Seniors make a showing at council meeting

A handful of Huntington Beach residents told council members Monday that they're fed up of waiting for a new senior center.

The proposed facility at Huntington Central Park that was approved in 2006 and planned to be complete in 2009 has yet to break ground after years of lawsuits and the loss of funding.

A group of residents aired their complaints about the Rodgers Seniors' Center at 17th Street and Orange Avenue, saying that the facility is falling apart and is doing more harm than good to its patrons.

Huntington Beach resident Linda Yates gave council members a laundry list of problems, such as fire doors being too heavy, not enough room for the scooters and walkers, asbestos tiles in the ceilings, no hot water in the restrooms as well as a lack of stalls, and mold in the classrooms.

"Just a friendly reminder, we helped build this city and elected you and paid your pensions," Yates said.

She added that Huntington Beach seniors are traveling outside to neighboring cities, like Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

"They're beautiful, safe, up-to-date centers for their seniors," she said. "This is a revenue loss for our city as well."

Mayor Connie Boardman invited speakers to a study session set for July 1 to discuss the senior center.

Plans for the proposed senior center hit an obstacle when funding for the project fell through.

The Pacific City project, a mixed-used project that was proposed to be constructed near the beach, was expected to provide $22 million as part of an agreement with the original developers. But after several changes in developers, that amount has dwindled to about $7 million, according to a previous story by the Independent.

Also, the city was sued by a citizens group called the Parks Legal Defense Fund, which argued that the funds received from the Pacific City project couldn't be used to build the facility and could only be used to create new open space.

An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the group in 2009, but in the following year an appellate judge overturned the ruling after the Parks Legal Defense Fund missed the deadline to file a complaint, according to the Independent.

Rene Burton, who teaches aerobics classes at Rodgers Seniors' Center, said her classes are always full, but the facilities are less than stellar — providing poor cooling and heating among other items.

"Our seniors and baby boomers are vital and productive members of our community," Burton said. "The seniors in our community are the very people that have contributed to the development of the city of Huntington Beach. Now is not the time to tell them that their efforts and their lives have not been a valuable gift to the city."

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