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Editorial: We need a new senior center yesterday

March 04, 2013

We all give lip service to caring for our elderly. We talk about how much they should be cherished and how much they have to share with us.

We also know that talk is cheap. What's expensive are construction costs and legal fees — and that's what's stopping Huntington Beach from taking proper care of our seniors. It only gets worse when you throw in years of court proceedings.

The Huntington Beach Senior Center is at Orange and 17th streets. In reporting a recent article, we found that the tiles are falling down, the ceiling leaks when it rains and the toilets don't flush without coaxing.

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The estimated cost of a new, 45,000-square-foot center is $22 million.The money was supposed to come from park fees from the Pacific City development on Pacific Coast Highway. Well, just the idea of that brought on a legal fight to prevent park fees from going to the construction of a building — in HB Central Park. Then, after the development project hit snags and ultimately was reduced in scope, the revenue expected from park fees for Pacific City was reduced to $7 million.

Now the city is faced with deciding whether to renovate the downtown center, build at Central Park or construct a facility elsewhere — along with figuring out how to get the rest of the money.

We have a vibrant and growing senior population in Huntington Beach, and its ranks should have a beautiful place to socialize, play games and enjoy music and other activities.

Some cities consider bonds to help pay for their centers, and many hold fundraisers. If the revenues from Pacific City aren't going to be enough, then we have to put our collective minds together now to find a way to get the rest of the money.

That process could be boosted if the city makes a final decision on the location of the center. Now that the court seems to have made a concrete decision that would allow the center to be built in Central Park, that seems like a good place to start. Make the commitment and fundraising efforts can get going.

Nobody seems to be saying let's ignore our seniors. No one is purposely neglecting them or suggesting a lack of concern about them. But intentions go only so far. At some point this issue has to take priority. The idea that our elderly seem to be last on the list is embarrassing and shameful.

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