The McLean County Home Place Senior Citizens’ Center is due to be rebuilt on its original property at 875 Walnut Street in Calhoun.
The building burned down in December 2020, with no injuries or deaths reported.
“When we lost the senior facility, we knew we had an empty lot,” said Judge Executive Curtis Dame. “Even if it was a bad event at the time in terms of planning, it could be seen as an opportunity because you have a chance to see what improvements (can) be made to the system, but also to the services as a whole for the district. “
Dame suggested moving the facility to the Myer Creek Park property, but the Calhoun City Board of Directors voted against it in January.
“I haven’t spoken to a person who was in favor of moving (the center) to the park,” said Calhoun Mayor Ron Coleman. “Our city council was decidedly against placing the building outside.”
Seniors previously expressed concerns about moving the center to the park as they are further from the city center. Dame and Coleman heard of talks about a petition from residents of the island who opposed the possible relocation.
“(The petition) circulated across the county,” Coleman said. “I’ve never seen it, just heard about it.”
“I don’t think everyone knew all of the facts (as to) why we were moving to another location,” said Dame. “At the end of the day, no matter what is popular, I will do what is best financially for the county as a whole.”
Dame said Calhoun has land restrictions on expanding the Walnut Street property and that parking will be the “most immediate challenge” when rebuilding begins.
Dame’s concerns about rebuilding the original property are that the property is in an AE flood zone, which, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, poses a 1% flood hazard and a 26% chance over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Dame plans to modify the drainage facility to accommodate this occurrence.
“After all we’ve seen of weather changes and heavy rain events, in the event that the facility floods, we won’t have flood insurance to pay for these repairs,” said Dame. “We are in a restricted flood zone. It is zone AE … which means that in a hundred years there is a high probability of a flood event. We’ve seen two or three of these since the facility was built (1997 and 2011). But that’s not what I’m trying to do in the first place to convince the public. What I’m more concerned about are heavy flash flood rains of six to eight inches. “
The three preliminary blueprints for Home Place include a canopy to accommodate vehicles, the removal of the porch to maintain square footage, and the inclusion of a commercial kitchen for catering.
“Our staff pack some meals a day for seniors who are at home,” said Dame. “This is probably one of the most important parts of senior service.”
Dame’s overall vision is to make Home Place accessible to the entire community.
“We want to try to develop a facility that is beneficial to the community,” he said. “It will be more of a community center than an exclusively dedicated senior citizen center…. If a person wants to rent the center for birthday parties (or business meetings) after hours, they can emphasize it. “
The site will also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with ramps in the front for guests and in the back for food service workers to load and unload.
“The site was older than the ADA requirements for easy access to the facility,” said Dame. “We need automatic doors for our customers. If you walk into the facility and get out of your car and say you have a wheelchair or a disability – getting into the facility is easy. I want it to be accessible to all customers. “
Dame is currently awaiting approval from the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) insurance company construction analyst to determine if the plans are feasible and what the “real cost” is. The current estimate for rebuilding is $ 1.2 million in addition to $ 100,000 for soft costs.
Dame said there are a few more years left in the local development fund through the US Economic Development Agency, but he wants to reserve those for sewer and water improvements for the entire county.
“The insurance covers the architect’s costs, we’re not worried about that,” he said. “We obviously have the land. But the most important thing is (if we can rebuild it). We are not in the financial position to spend an additional half a million dollars on an asset that is what we had. “
If the estimate and plans are approved, Dame said they will proceed with the contractor bidding process to begin the construction process. Dame estimates it will be mid to late autumn to see if rebuilding can go ahead.
“People may think it took a while to do this, and it is,” said Dame. “There are many other hurdles that we tried to overcome, but sometimes in the role of the public service you obviously get bends, coupled with the restrictions and delays in logistics with COVID-19 – it’s the perfect storm.” For the delay this project. We are fully committed to replacing the system. There is no question about that. “
“As far as Home Place goes,” Coleman said. “I’m happy to see some movement.”
Comments are closed.