"Teens, seniors may share center"

"Teens and seniors citizens of low to moderate income could some day share a building if a grant process now in progress ever hits pay dirt.In the language of governmentese, such a building is called an Intergenerational Neighborhood Facility. There's a pot of money worth $750,000 at stake, offered as a state Community Development Block Grant.Island County, the City of Langley, and various civic groups, such as Senior Services and the South Whidbey Youth Center, are involved in the lengthy process of applying for the money.But the process has paid off before for Island County. Block grants of some $500,000 each were used to build community health centers on South Whidbey, Camano Island, and in Oak Harbor.Larry Kwarsick, Island County Public Works director, appeared at last week's Langley City Council meeting, where he received city support for applying for a planning only grant. He described it as a necessary step toward obtaining the larger block grant. The planning grant of some $25,000 would be used for designing, programming and siting an intergenerational neighborhood facility.Kwarsick described the planning-only grant as basically in the bag, but Langley's signature was needed on the dotted line.Supporters imagine a new building that would serve both the needs of senior citizens and youth from lower income homes. Or, as Kwarsick described it, our aging population and our significant percentage of youth in poverty level homes.Also on hand was Maureen Smith, representing the board of Senior Services of Island County. She told the council, We've outgrown our facility, at Bayview, and the board initially considered undertaking a building project of its own. But they support this joint senior/teen study. It's definitely worth pursuing, she said.Ray Honerlah, council member, asked where such a building would be constructed.No one has pre-determined an acceptable site, answered Kwarsick. He said a site analysis will be part of the grant process, with that task going to the city and South Whidbey Parks director Jerry Cole.There were also questions about financing such a structure. Kwarsick acknowledged that the $750,000 grant, if achieved, would probably not cover all construction costs. And how maintenance and operation would be paid for is also up in the air. Again, those issues will be addressed in the grant application. A lot of questions are unanswered, Kwarsick said.No specifics are available on what the building would offer, but Kwarsick said it would be designed with specific outcomes in mind, such as better health and nutrition for teens and seniors.Smith said seniors may use the building predominantly in the daytime, while after school and evenings might be set aside partially for teen activities. In January a community conference is planned to solicit ideas on how to use the building. "

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