Once upon a time in the town of Danville there was an old building that sat on the corner of Hartz and Prospect called the Veteran’s Memorial Hall. It was owned by the county on behalf of the military men and women who served our country. Unfortunately, the building was in disrepair. So the town made a deal with the county that the town would buy the building at a nominal price and fix it up and maintain it with the promise that the veterans would always have its usage. The town also worked out a plan that the building would be expanded so seniors would share in its use. It would become both a veteran’s hall and a senior center.
The city then began meeting with seniors and vets to find out what things they wanted to happen in their building. It hired a company to do a senior survey to find out their priorities. An architectural company was also brought in to begin drawing plans. The front portion would be preserved though it would be gutted while the rear half would be completely rebuilt. To add to the complexities of expanding the building, several redwood trees had to be removed. Despite protests the town removed them and replaced them with young trees that will take years to develop.
During the ascertaining of needs, there were many discussions so that both seniors’ and veterans’ needs would be met. The veteran’s had a more unified group of leaders who argued strongly for their requirements. The seniors did not. The biggest impact the seniors could muster was the survey done by a research company from San Diego. One of the desires by the seniors was a communal lunch program. They also wanted a lounge to play games and read books like they had in the old building. Neither of these things have happened.
I was present at most of the meetings and as I listened to the issues I realized that seniors had a problem that the town was not solving. Downtown parking was an issue. I understood that there would be special permits for seniors so they need not worry about two and three hours limits. While there was a town parking lot close by, it was not tangent to the building so handicapped parking was not convenient. After awhile the town took away the special parking permits. No senior can take back to back classes because now he/she would be in danger of getting a parking ticket. Parking with a four hour limit is located in the parking lot on Railroad Avenue but that is a much longer walk for seniors, particularly in cold or rainy weather.
I suggested that the current Community Center (next to the library) be made into the Senior Center since there is adjacent parking with several handicapped spots close to the building. I further suggested that the Veteran’s Memorial Building be used as the Community Center since the classes for the younger participants are shorter and don’t need long term parking. Young Moms might also like to lunch downtown and shop before or after a class which would be a boon to the downtown businesses.
Now we have a Senior Center whose rooms and halls are often quiet. There is no lunch program. No lounge. No easy parking. The town gave us a senior center but forgot to solve the rest of the issues. It’s a nice new building but it’s not filling the needs of our seniors.