Commission on Aging moving forward with plans for new facility
Senior Center officials expect to finalize purchase of new building on April 1
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center – along with many other public places in the state of Michigan and throughout the nation – is currently closed to the public due to efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but COA officials are moving forward with plans for a new Senior Center following a successful millage proposal during the March 10 election.
Crawford County voters approved the bond proposal for a new facility by a final count of 2,235 to 1,059 during the Presidential Primary Election on Tuesday, March 10. Alice Snyder, Director of the Crawford County Commission on Aging, said the process of finding a new home for the Senior Center has been a long one.
“We were very excited about the bond proposal passing, especially by such a large margin and in every township,” Snyder said. “It’s been almost 16 years since my arrival as the director. Finding a new location has been a goal since the beginning. It feels so good to know we are now moving forward into our own space.”
The bond proposal will generate $3 million over the course of 20 years, COA officials said.
The Crawford County Commission on Aging expects to complete the property sale next week for its new facility. The COA is buying the Mayday Window Manufacturing building located at 4388 M-72 East.
“At this time, the closing of the building and property purchase is scheduled for April 1,” Snyder said. “We are reviewing construction management proposals so we can be ready to move forward at that time. During that time, final design plans will be completed and the project will be bid out. Planned gatherings with current participants and community members to review and provide input on the designs are on hold at this time because we are closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It will be several months before the new Senior Center facility can open, Snyder said.
“Part of the pre-construction process will be creating a timeline. Opening of the new (Senior Center) will be at least a year and most likely longer,” Snyder said.
The new building will be significantly larger than the current facility, and it will offer a lot of new features, both inside and outside.
“One of the major differences will be the increased amount of dedicated parking available. Staff will have their own parking spaces, which maximizes what is available to the public. Sidewalks in the parking lot which lead to the building will be heated to reduce the incidences of older adults slipping on the snow and ice. A covered entrance will be available for those who need to be dropped off,” Snyder said. “On the inside, the biggest enhancement will be our exercise studio. This will be a dedicated room for all of our fitness classes, which now share space open to the noise of the kitchen. This makes it possible to really have nice yoga and tai chi classes. Staff are excited to have expanded office and meeting space along with accessible storage. Kitchen staff are most excited about a walk-in cooler/freezer.”
Statewide efforts to battle the spread of COVID-19 – including the closing of schools and other public buildings and restrictions on restaurants, limiting them to carry-out service only – began a few days after the March 10 election. The Senior Center is closed to the public right now “until further notice,” but some of its programs are continuing.
“Congregate Meals will continue to be offered Monday through Friday on a curbside take-out basis from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meals can be picked up at that time for both lunch and dinner as well as meals for the weekend. Please call the COA at (989) 348-7123 to order your meal for take-out,” according to the Crawford County Commission on Aging. “Meals on Wheels will continue to be delivered on an alternative schedule.”
“It has been hard not to be able to celebrate this achievement with all those who made it possible,” Snyder said. “The vote happened right as the coronavirus began and within a few days it was pretty chaotic at our office. I have such a dedicated staff and am so thankful for all the Meals on Wheels volunteers that we have. Everyone has been wonderful adjusting to changes daily.”
“The Aging & Adult Services Agency, which is our department in the State of Michigan, deems us as ‘essential workers’ so we will continue to work and provide services to the best of our ability. Our phones have been busier than usual, which has been a challenge. In addition, we’ve made calls to all 157 clients to complete a health screening to ensure the safety of our staff and volunteers. These calls have also given us an opportunity to check on older adults to make sure they have enough food and essential items,” Snyder said.
Snyder said the Crawford County Commission on Aging could use some help with regard to costs for a couple of its continuing services.
“Monetary donations from community members and organizations would be most helpful to help offset costs for those who cannot afford to donate toward their meals or in-home services,” Snyder said.
To donate, people can mail a check to Crawford County Commission on Aging, 308 Lawndale St, Grayling, MI 49738, or make a donation on-line at https://www.crawfordcoa.org/make-a-donation.