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Seniors await new digs

After years of fighting over where to build a new center and how to pay for it, the current structure isn't aging gracefully.

February 26, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • Helen Tangcay, right, performs a Hawaiian dance to the sounds of Don Gay on the keyboard at the Rodgers Seniors' Center. The roof leaks over the stage and throughout the facility.
Helen Tangcay, right, performs a Hawaiian dance to the… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

In one room, they're playing cards. In another, they're learning different painting techniques. Sometimes they just sit around and chat. But whatever these senior Huntington Beach residents are doing at the Rodgers Seniors' Center, one thought looms in most of their minds: when will a new senior center be built?

"It's been promised so much in the past and it should have been completed by 2009," said Pat Masino, the kitchen supervisor at Rodgers Seniors' Center. "If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."

Masino, who has been at the senior center for almost eight years, said she was excited when she first heard word that a new facility was going to be built. But after watching plans fall through over the years, she hasn't been holding her breath.

"It's nothing to get excited about," she said. "I'd like to see it happen because this place is so old and terrible. Everything about the place is old."

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Plans for a new Senior Center have been in limbo for years. A proposal to build a center in Huntington Central Park was approved in 2006 and was slated to be funded by $22-million park fees generated by the Pacific City project.

That idea was met with opposition from a citizens' group called the Parks Legal Defense Fund in 2008. The group argued that the funds from Pacific City could not be used for the center because the money was required to be used to create new open space. After a few turnarounds in court it was ultimately ruled in 2009 that the city would be able to use the funds.

That signaled a go-ahead for the project but by then the funding from Pacific City had dwindled to $7 million.

Another hurdle was the environmental impact report for the project which the Parks Legal Defense Fund and Council Woman Connie Boardman has found issue with. It was last approved by the council in April.

With that hurdle seemingly cleared, the city now needs to find the funding for the project which is expected to cost about $20 million. They are also considering if it should even be build in Central Park after all.

The idea of rebuilding the current building or finding another location have been options the city has recently considered.

Gail Furguson, who has taken art classes and coming to the center for the past 12 years, pointed out some of the things she thinks needs to be fixed or replaced.

Loose-fitting ceiling tiles, chipping paint, window blinds that are tied up to prevent them from falling are just a handful of issues Furguson has with the building.

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