For the past two decades there has been recognition of the need to gain adequate facilities for Huntington Beach's growing senior population. The trend, nationally and locally, is that the senior population is growing and growing.
Perhaps the same few loud voices of opposition, like those writing disparaging words in the March 14 Independent, were even heard 20 years ago. People who are often afraid of change cause obstruction. Currently, with Michael E. Rodgers Senior Center's limited site capacity, waiting lists have grown and new classes often cannot be developed.
The letters in the March 14 Mailbag made three wrong and offensive assertions regarding the senior center. First, that the photos of the dilapidated facility were a "cunningly manipulative" attempt by management for sympathy or that there is "a current state of facilities management incompetence." None of that is true. I know the managers and they did not prejudice that article. As for the other inaccurate assertion, budgets flow from City Council priorities and not the center's management. And the age of this building is causing more and more costly repairs.
What should be stated is that those directly managing the Rodgers Seniors Center are innovative, professional and clever. When possible, they have initiated ways to ease limited space for classes. There are now expanded hours so more classes, programs and services are available and more people can be served, but the capability is far from adequate to the need. This situation will only get worse.
It is fortunate for Huntington Beach seniors that the city's Council on Aging works closely with City Hall, city staff and volunteers. The HBCOA fundraising augments the limited funds that the city provides.
The third wrong and offensive assertion is the phrase "Palace in the Park." It is catchy but not true. We should not let a catchy exaggeration undermine the truth. The new facility was designed to provide adequate room and offer versatility and adaptability while blending into its environment. Go to Disney Hall and see what a palace looks like. It is nothing like the proposed new senior center.
What will the final design include? I do not know, as fiscal budgets might impact the final outcome. Had such obstructionists not begun their efforts several decades ago the original costs would have been contained, allowing the facility to already stand.
Our citizens voted and approved the building of the new center in a specific location in a small corner of the park. The majority of our citizens saw the need and wanted to provide not just for current seniors, but also for future seniors. Let's stop the delay tactics. Let's make sure that seniors of today and tomorrow can find within our city a place that provides adequate opportunities for an enriched and quality life.
Contact the City Council at (714) 536-5553 to add your voice of support to building a new senior center. Get your neighbors to do the same.
MARSHA WALDMAN is a Huntington Beach resident.