Senior Center East Has Been In The Works For Four Years

The general obligation bond ballot measures passed in August 2018 paved the way for a nearly $2 million Senior Center East location.

Why is this project being planned now? Actually, it has been in the works for more than four years. The process of defining building and space needs for any group is lengthy; most of these projects take years of planning. Fortunately for the BA Senior Center, we have a strong partnership with the city of Broken Arrow, and City Councilman Johnnie Parks currently chairs our Building Committee. We went through four rounds of edits before the final plans were adopted by the Center and City Council.

How many older adults currently live in Broken Arrow? Our approximately 27,800 residents 55 and over comprise about 24.8% of the population. According to the Census, the total BA population is around 110,000 but is expected to increase in the next 20 years, especially with adults getting older and planned growth in Broken Arrow of 40,000 to 50,000 additional residents.

What’s wrong with the current Senior Center? Nothing. Right now we’re so limited for space that we have people who want to come here and participate in activities and we just have no space to accommodate them. Our current design does not accommodate the current and future needs for older adults. The current building limits our ability to offer programs requested by existing seniors, let alone expand programs to reach additional users. Seniors are being turned away from popular programs due to space restrictions. The lack of adequate parking limits the number of seniors who can participate in popular activities. There is a lack of private meeting space for consultations and clinics. These problems are getting steadily worse as the senior population grows.

How does the new building address our current needs? It allow us to double our number of meeting rooms. I think it’s going to bring more people to the Broken Arrow Senior Center, which will be laid out beautifully. There is a space that can be expanded to be the same size as Centennial. We will also gain more than 200 additional parking spots.

What activities will be held at the Senior Center East? That has not been determined. We will work on some of that over the next 16 months. However, doubling the number of meeting rooms will give us many more options on when and where classes are offered. We can flex spaces up and  down based on attendance. For example, if there’s a 14-person line dancing class, it could move to a smaller room while a 40-person crochet class could utilize a larger space. Currently, no more than 25 people can participate in the crochet class.

How will we move back-and-forth across Main Street? We don’t know yet. However, the city, architect and Center staff will find a solution that protects our members.

Will it be a turnkey building? The general obligation bonds will cover construction of the Center but not amenities. So tables, chairs, electronics, supplies, signage – anything beyond a floor, walls and windows will require funding. We will conduct a capital campaign over the next two years to pay for amenities in the new building as well as the reconfiguration of the existing building.

It might be hard to imagine an additional senior center building at a time when we are still closed. But remember that the core values that make our senior center special remain constant – the desire to support independence and social engagement and, ultimately, the quality of life of older adults, enhanced and impacted through a broad mix of programs, services and amenities. To this end, I believe the senior center of the future will be a more deliberately and insightfully designed place.

If you have questions, suggestions or would like to learn more about the future building, please reach out to me. I welcome the dialogue – or 918-259-8377.