Ceremony marks beginning of community center work
October 21, 2012
Young at Heart Club member Paul Lockwood sat in the front row on Friday as county officials celebrated the groundbreaking of the Douglas County Community & Senior Center. Lockwood has been agitating for this day for more than a decade. “It’s going along good,” Lockwood said as Commissioner Doug Johnson introduced the Herbig family to a crowd of 250 on Friday morning. “There’s been very little opposition. It’s been a super effort.”Lockwood is no stranger to opposition, having been a soldier in the fight to build a new center for seniors in Douglas County.Through the defeat of two ballot measures to raise money for a new senior center, Lockwood never budged from the position that the present center, built in 1977 in the equivalent of a barn-raising, was inadequate for the county’s burgeoning senior population.Senior Center Advisory Council Chairman Bob Cook looked back over the path that led to Friday’s groundbreaking.“Thank everyone one for all their support over all these years,” he said. He credited the county with clearing obstacles as they arose, including approving a half-percent utility tax to build and maintain the center and even changing county code to allow a public facility to be built on a flood plain.“You’d never know this was a flood plain,” Lockwood said as he looked over the field across from Lampe Park.“This is a perfect site,” Cook said. “It is far better than any other site we looked at. It’s got great ingress and egress.”All five Douglas County commissioners, Assemblyman Kelly Kite, Sen. James Settelmeyer and County Manager Steve Mokrohisky took the podium on Friday as bratwurst were cooking.“There were a lot of people who got this going,” said Kite, who will give up his seat to Jim Wheeler. “Including some folks who brought it back from the dead.”Kite credited Community Services Director Scott Morgan for keeping the project moving forward.“This center will save the county money by keeping its older citizens out of elder care and keeping them in their homes,” he said.A foundation has been established to pay to furnish the center.“I’ve heard it said that this is the sort of community that if I asked for help painting something, you would all bring a bucket of paint,” Commission Chairman Lee Bonner said. “A bucket of paint costs about $25, so I ask you to donate that much instead of the paint.”The 75,000-square-foot center is estimated to cost $18.5 million. It will include a dining room that will seat 300 and room for adult daycare and a preschool. There will also be a gym and meeting rooms.Myth BusterOpponents to the senior center say county voters have rejected it twice. In reality, voters rejected specific plans for paying for a center and other things. In 2004 they defeated a plan to increase the utility tax on gas, electrical and telephone by 3 percent to build a senior citizen center, community recreation center and cultural performing arts center in Carson Valley and a senior citizen center and library at Lake Tahoe. In 2006, voters were asked to approve a 1/4-cent sales tax increase to build and operate a new senior center. Residuals from the tax were to be used to support Douglas County Parks and Recreation, Library and agricultural land conservation.