Two months after celebrating a successful election to finance half of a $1 billion new stadium for the Texas Rangers, the City Council said Tuesday that it’s ready to call a more modest election to fund a $37.7 million senior center.
The council agreed to take the required two votes by the Feb. 14 deadline to get the project on a May bond election ballot.
The city is using the term “Active Adult Center” because modern-day facilities for older residents are focused more on healthy activity than just leisure, City Manager Trey Yelverton said. Also, with members as young as 55, many likely don’t want to be “defined as senior citizens,” he added.
The center would be built on available wooded property at the Pierce-Burch Water Treatment Plant’s 25-acre site at 1901 Lakewood Drive, just east of Lake Arlington. The scenic city property has generated developer interest in building upscale senior housing around the center.
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Councilwoman Sheri Capehart said the council learned Tuesday that some developers are interested in building there even if voters reject the activity center.
Win or lose at the polls, Capehart said, the city needs a senior center.
“As our population grows — and the baby boomers in particular — they’re very health-conscious,” she said. “They want to remain active, and they want to remain social. How we achieve providing facilities that can accommodate that lifestyle will be important to the community.”
Capehart said that if the proposed center fails, “I believe the council will seek alternative models to provide the services our seniors desire.”
City officials and seniors have been discussing the need for facilities and programs for older residents for several years. The project going to the voters in May appeared to have the most support among several options outlined during town hall meetings at the time.
The planned Active Adult Center would be for seniors only. It would be a larger facility that would draw members from across the city, popular among many seniors who attended the meetings -- although some seniors who would face long drives to the center had concerns. Potential amenities in the proposed center include a gymnasium, indoor track, aquatic center, kitchen, theater and an indoor/outdoor lounge in a 65,000-square-foot, stand-alone building.
The other main option was a “multigenerational” center, a still larger facility that would provide services for all ages and include an exclusive senior wing with separate amenities. But many seniors sounding off at those meetings wanted a dedicated, full-service senior center like those in Grand Prairie and several other area cities.
Arlington has several recreation centers with amenities for all ages, and two centers dedicated to providing space for seniors to have lunch and socialize and get some exercise.
Officials aren’t sure exactly when the center would be built if voters approve it. Yelverton said it would have to be worked into the timelines for several projects approved in earlier bond elections. Putting the senior center in the middle of the pack would mean getting it open by 2020, he said. Putting it at the end would mean a grand opening in 2022 or 2023.