Commission, Pleasanton council discuss stalemate on senior center
The Linn County Commission and Pleasanton City Council discussed the fate of the Pleasanton Senior Center on Monday. (Journal file photo)
The fate of the Pleasanton Senior Center remained muddled even after both the Linn County Commission and the Pleasanton City Council discussed the issue on Monday, Nov. 28. For much of this year, the commission has discussed a problem with the center being in an aging building that needs considerable work.
The commission has also discussed working with the City of Pleasanton to use a couple of rooms in the fairly new Pleasanton Community Center, or using a portion of the new Linn County Health Department for the program. Using a portion of the health department hasn’t received much traction because of the distance people would need to travel to get there.
On Monday morning, Commissioner Rick James asked the other commissioners if they had ever worked out the Pleasanton Senior Center issue yet.
County Counselor Gary Thompson asked if Pleasanton had ever responded to the county’s proposal. He said that after he sent it, Pleasanton City Administrator Teresa Whitaker called him with a few questions, and she said she would take it to the city council.
The proposal was that the county would like to rent two rooms in the community center and give the city of Pleasanton the old building.
Commissioner Danny McCullough said that Public Works Director Shaun West was dealing with them. McCullough said that he had not heard from them.
Here is a timeline of the discussion about the Pleasanton Center:
In August 2021 commissioners decide to replace a failed HVAC unit at the current senior meal site in Pleasanton at a cost of more than $2,000. The decision to purchase the new unit spurs discussion on how much more to spend on the former church building.
Last May, the K-State Extension nutrition assistant Melanie Grote, the Pleasanton Senior Citizen site director Nancy Gustin and others came to the commission meeting to ask that the location issue of the meal site be resolved. The commissioners said they would have a decision soon. Later, McCullough was assigned to get cost estimates to compare the two building sites, the current senior center and the remodeling of part the community center building.
On June 6, after promising to have a decision on the fate of the center for a second time, the commission delayed again as McCullough worked to receive bids to repair the current center.
On Aug. 22, James asked McCullough if there had been any progress on the senior center. McCullough said there had not been. He had reached out to a contractor to look at it but nothing had been done yet.
Also at the Aug. 22 meeting, West had reported that Whitaker said the city hoped to start work on the community building by Oct. 1 and was looking at some direction from the county before that date. West said that if the county did not have a finalization of plans for the building by then, the city was going to go ahead with making storage there.
At the request of the commission, apparently made in an executive session, County Counselor Gary Thompson sends an email proposal to Pleasanton’s administrator on Sept. 15.
The key parts of the proposal include:
The city will grant the county a 40-year lease on two rooms, the “kitchen room” and the “shelter room,” including access from common areas and use of the restrooms.
The county will sign the current senior center over to the city.
The county will pay the monthly electric bill for its two rooms.
The “shelter room” will be available for city use as a shelter in cases of emergency, i.e., tornado warnings.
The city will make the required changes to the electricity and HVAC to facilitate the separate use by the county and to enable separate electric billing for the county.
The county will be responsible for the installation and maintenance of its kitchen equipment.
The county will clean its two rooms.
The city will clean the rest of the building, including the restrooms.
The city will maintain and repair the building and the grounds.
At Monday morning’s meeting, James asked if West could call and see what they answer was to the county’s proposal. James said the issue was whether the county was going to leave the senior center where it was or move it to the community building.
Commission Chair Jim Johnson said the county had made an offer to Pleasanton and Pleasanton had dropped the ball.
McCullough said, “We’ve been voted against a few times on plans too. It needs to be dealt with because when we give $11,000 for that I will get ate alive by the people in Pleasanton over it.”
James said that the county had given them an in-depth plan.
McCullough said he would go to the city council meeting to work with them.
And the commissioner did indeed talk with the Pleasanton council that evening, however the reception to the proposal by the county was mixed.
Pleasanton Councilman Jake Mattingley said he was not in favor of the agreement. “This agreement is not something I would ever agree with,” he said, adding that it would cost the city money.
He pointed out that in original negotiations, the county would pay the city $1,500 monthly to use the community building. He also said that both parties were ready to move forward but the county backed out.
“And now they’re trying to get back into it for dirt cheap,” Mattingley said.
Councilwoman Rochelle Schreckhise asked McCullough why the county wouldn’t put money into the current senior center and fix it up.
McCullough said the seniors deserved something better than the current center, but when pressed by Mayor Mike Frisbie about the wishes of those attending the center, he admitted that they wanted to remain in the former church building.
“They don’t like change, and I get that,” McCullough said. However, he added that the building was “falling down” and he had been outvoted 2-1 by the other commissioners on building renovations. He later said the building was worth $76,000.
McCullough said that if the council wanted to make a counterproposal, he would take it to the commission.
Frisbie said he agreed with Mattingley that it appeared that the city was footing the bill for the senior center.
City Administrator Teresa Whitaker also pointed out that the city didn’t need to take possession of another building that was falling down. Whitaker also pointed out that when the city was considering moving the center 18 months ago, the cost to separate the electric meters for the building would cost about $8,000.
McCullough said the other commissioners wanted to move the nutrition site to the county health department of Tucker Road, but he believed the community center would better serve the people who attended the senior center. He said 90% of the seniors live close to the community center.
The matter was dropped until later in the meeting when Mattingley revisited the issue, saying the city could make a counteroffer to the county, but no specifics were discussed.