I hope everyone is doing well and suffered no ill effects from hurricane Matthew. As some of you probably know, recently there have been some rumors circulating about the status of the Senior Services Center which so many people worked hard to get moving months ago. Those rumors, as best I can tell, have revolved around the funds allocated for the project a little over a year ago and whether or not those funds have been spent on something else, have been redirected and in general, whether or not the Senior Services Facility is still a viable project. Because of the citizen interest and the importance of the project I thought it might be helpful to take a few minutes and provide an update as to where we are in the process. I share this information and update asking that everyone keep in mind that the Senior Services Center is but one of many parks and recreation projects that are being researched and evaluated for eventual consideration by Mayor Olive and Members of the Town Council. Some of the projects being looked at involve completing existing parks, planning for future parks, and the design and construction of new facilities. There is also a realization that there are a multitude of needs across all the services the Town provides. Therefore, the need for parks and recreation services cannot be considered in a vacuum but instead must be considered in the big picture of the many needs of a growing and vibrant community.
That being said, with regards to the $400,000 initially allocated for the design / study of a possible Senior Services Center, I hope the following is helpful:
At the recent Town Hall meeting held at the Halle Cultural Arts Center, there was a question asked about a “rumor” that the funds allocated for the design of the Senior Center were all used and did not produce desired results. This is not correct. Here are the facts:
1. $400,000 was appropriated in May 2015 for the design of a Senior Center on the Town Campus. It was funded by a transfer from the General Fund using Fund Balance. Following that appropriation there were additional discussions regarding the location of a Senior Center and once that issue was settled, we began to make progress. Part of this progress was the appointment of a Steering Committee, comprised of several seniors active in current programs, representatives from the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Advisory Commission, members of the Town Council, and Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources staff, to help determine the needs the facility would be designed to meet.
2. The Steering Committee had their first meeting in April of 2016 and their final meeting in May of 2016. Subsequent to that the architect developed and delivered a “programming report” that shows the space needs as determined by the Steering Committee. A copy of that report has been forwarded to the Town Council for consideration.
3. To date the following payments have been made:
a. $20,000 to Smith and Smith for surveying – needed for the design and construction plans.
b. $30,375 to Smith-Sinnett Architects for their work with staff and the steering committee to develop a “program” for the building to determine the space needed.
c. There is an additional $10,125 encumbered for the remainder of our current contract with Smith-Sinnett.
d. A total of $60,500 has been spent/committed on this project and we have in hand a document that outlines the space needs determined by the steering committee. This leaves $339,500 for the development of the final building design and construction plans/documents.
The next step in this process will be for staff to take information to the Mayor and Council with the intent of reviewing all the park and recreation projects we have in our proposed Capital Improvement Plan for parks and recreation facilities as outlined above. From there we will ask the Mayor and Council to provide direction regarding priority and project scoping. Given the magnitude of the projects, staff felt it was better to go to the elected officials with information on all known projects rather than asking them to provide guidance on priorities without having the complete picture of anticipated needs. It will then be the Mayor and Council’s decision as how to proceed.
In the future, please know that my door is always open (as is Allie’s) and we’re more than happy to provide information / clear up confusion whenever we can.
John M. Brown
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
PO Box 250
Apex, NC 27502