Active Adult Center by Grace Darling

Excerpt from the February, 2017 Arlington Conservation Council Post Oak Newsletter page 12, see 

On February 14, the Arlington City Council will decide whether to have a bond election in May asking voters to fund the proposed Active Adult Center.  Readers are urged to view a recent presentation on the subject by Lemuel Randolph, Parks and Recreation Dept. director, who has been charged with guiding the logistics of the process from concept to building:

Should this link fail, go to the Arlington City Council meetings archive and look at the video for the December 13 afternoon work session, scrolling down to item D, the Active Adult Center.

The idea for a senior recreation was raised with the PROS Committee in 2013-14 and again with the 2014 Bond Committee, but both groups declined to recommend it and therefore it was not included in the last bond election.  Supporters would not let the concept die, however, and began a spirited lobbying of our elected officials that has brought us to this point.

Concerns have been raised over the AAC's construction costs of $38 million and projected annual operational deficit of $205,000 to more than $709,000 -- most likely $600,000/yr shortfall.  Its location far from densely populated East Arlington, lack of existing neighborhood services, remoteness from common transportation routes serving two-thirds of the city, and the expected diversion of resources away from more critical parks and other municipal needs are also bones of contention.  Some of us familiar with the crippling effect on APRD by the cost recovery mandate wonder at the concept's survival to date, given that the center is not expected to pay for itself from day one.

Another concern is the environmental aspects of the AAC.  The selected site is approximately 36 contiguous acres along SW Green Oaks Boulevard, from Woodside on the north to Woodland Park on the south and fronting the Pierce-Burch Water Treatment Plant.  The building footprint will cover 12 acres, leaving 24 acres for future development of senior housing and other senior-related businesses (doctors' offices, nursing homes, and so on), which some of our council members deem very desirable.  In their view, the entire 36 wooded acres could and should be developed once the Active Adult Center anchors the location as a senior mecca.

Full disclosure:  not all the woods are first growth, some areas to the southwest of the site may be mostly covered with elms and hackberries, and there are plenty of mowed grassy expanses near the buildings.  Still, that leaves a good portion of the 36 acres with post oaks and large elms that lift up my soul and abundant brush to provide habitat for the wildlife I cherish.

As a senior who lives in the heart of Arlington, I treasure walking in my leafy neighborhood and visiting with UTA students and young families, with easy access to all kinds of businesses (except for a grocery store, but that's another story).  I enjoy the local facilities at Meadowbrook and Vandergriff parks and look forward to a refurbished public library-Hugh Smith Recreation Center, where people of all demographics may mix.  I am not persuaded about the need for a senior recreation center, hate the chosen location, am dismayed by its dreadful financial outlook, and worry about the inevitable delay on other park and infrastructure projects that need immediate attention.  What about you?

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