Many question Cache senior center proposal

If a local developer has his way, Logan’s Senior Citizen’s Center may be replaced with a new complex that includes 210 residential apartments for seniors with monthly rents as high as $3,000. The county planning commission has tentatively backed the proposal and County Executive Lynn Lemon said the public-private partnership could benefit Cache County in many ways.”If we could get a new facility, and if we could get a long-term source of revenue, we’re crazy for not at least entertaining the idea,” said Lemon.Lemon said the county would only need to donate the land on which the current center sits, and the developer would be responsible for building and maintaining the proposed multi-story Central Park Senior Center.But many people, including the director of the senior citizen’s center, are questioning the proposal. Christine Johnson said the county has not conducted a market analysis or a financial analysis on the project yet.”A new building would be nice; a new senior center would be nice, but there are so many concerns still,” Johnson said. “There’s been no analysis to prove that it’s feasible, or that it’s even needed in Cache County.”Most of the senior citizens who were at Friday’s lunch hour at the center agree with Johnson.Dean Ray Hicken, a senior citizen and retired small business owner, said the current center is sturdy and doesn’t need replacing.”This building is solid rock and it’s never gonna burn down,” Hicken said. “We helped build this center years ago … and it’s solid as the rock of Gibralter.”Diane Hardy, who sat at a table with several friends, said the county should be careful about public-private ventures.”If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Hardy said. “We love the way it is right now, and we don’t understand how they keep pushing ahead. It turns out they’ve already got the architect, they’ve got the company and everything…this should’ve gone out for bids. What in the hell’s goin’ on there?”Hardy said she’d consider living at a senior community someday, but there are already many available in other parts of town.”What business does the county have competing with private business? Those (senior living centers) have said they’re not full already,” Hardy said.There was one senior at Friday’s lunch who said he is open to the idea of a new senior center.”I’m personally satisfied with the way things are,” said Hal Petersen, who takes advantage of the social lunch at the current senior center most days.”I’m not opposed to it, but I’m personally satisfied with what we have. It’s really nice here but it’s not set up with the amenities we need. We need a bigger pool (billiards) room, we need a sewing room, we need an exercise room. All we have now are two large halls.”Lynn Lemon said the county has to make a decision before the end of December whether to move forward, because the private developer, Rick Plewe and Associates, has an option to purchase land around the current center but it expires at the end of the year. Lemon said he has requisitioned a committee to conduct market research on how many seniors would actually be willing to move in if the center is built. Lemon said there will also be many legal details to work out in combining a private enterprise with public money.At a recent meeting to gauge feedback from Logan’s current senior citizen community, Cache County Councilman Craig Peterson has been reported as saying he won’t support the project if most senior citizens don’t want it.”If we can’t satisfy them that they’re gonna be better off than they are now, we wouldn’t proceed.”

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