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Senior Center plan unveiled

By Kathy Fox

Pass by 150 Patrick Ave. at year’s end and, if all goes well, you’ll see the new, although not completed, Urbana Champaign County Senior Center, according to Senior Center Treasurer Bill Miller, who says that’s the goal of general contractor Marker Construction.

Miller said there is no construction time line or projected opening date yet, and there’s no exact project cost yet, since bids need to be sought from subcontractors.

He said, however, that the project is expected to come in under $3 million and that he believes the senior center already has about a third of the funds that will be needed.

Champaign County voters narrowly passed a five-year, 0.5-mill levy in April to build a new senior center on Patrick Avenue near Water Street. The current facility is located at the corner of Thompson and Walnut streets.

Passing with a 3,613-3,512 vote, the levy is expected to generate an estimated $458,000 a year, which Miller said will be used to repay a loan the senior center will acquire from Civista Bank. In 2019, the bank donated 2.2 acres behind its 601 Scioto St. location for a new senior center.

See PLAN | 3

These drawings created by Beasley Architecture & Design show the exterior designs of the Urbana Champaign County Senior Center to be built at 150 Patrick Ave.

Submitted drawings

Urbana Champaign County Senior Center member Bob Jackson (left) is greeted by Stacy Barnhart, the center’s executive director, during a celebration event on Friday to hail passage of the levy to build a new senior center. The celebration included drive-thru refreshments to keep everyone safe and outdoor interactions only.

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Stacy Barnhart, the center’s executive director, expressed gratitude to Civista, the community and center members, including building committee members Anita Phillips, Mary Lee and Jerry Gecowets, Larry Headlee, Roger Koerner and Miller.

“It took many meetings and lots of hard work to get the building levy passed,” Barnhart said. “We had many people make calls, send out post cards and speak on behalf of the (center) for the need of a new center.”

“It’s taken a lot of effort, a lot of work,” Miller said of tasks accomplished so far to get a new facility. “I know it will be successful.”

The senior center moved to its current site, a former church, in 1980. The senior center also owns and rents the house just south of the former church. Miller said these properties will be sold.

The new building and parking lot will offer many improvements, Miller and Barnhart said.

“There will be three times as much parking, at least 46 spaces,” Miller said.

The one-story 9,452-squarefoot structure, designed by Beasley Architecture & Design, will include larger pantry and kitchen areas, walk-in freezers, a large activity room, as well as game, meeting and conference rooms that will provide privacy when needed.

Members no longer will need to maneuver stairs and ramp, and carts of groceries no longer will need to be carefully guided up and down the ramp.

Barnhart said she looks forward to more pantry space and room to expand outreach services.

“We are always faced with a lack of space at our current center,” she said.

Both she and Miller said the need for senior center services will increase.

“Our senior population is growing tremendously in the county,” Miller said. “Right now, probably 23% of (the county’s) 40,000 are seniors.”

Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.

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