Possible senior center site being appraised

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Efforts are starting again to establish a senior center in the city.

Mayor Steve Schwinghamer got permission from the Huntingburg Common Council Tuesday night to get an appraisal for the building and two acres of nearby land behind the former St. Joseph Hospital building.

“My concern is the fact that our seniors have been promised something for so long,” Schwinghamer said Wednesday. “I just think it’s time. If we got the capability or a way of doing that, we should.”

A new senior center was one of the nine projects included in the Stellar Community plans. However, money and timing delayed the completion of the project. Schwinghamer said that now is the time to start working on the endeavor again.

“My plan is to get an appraisal and see what the cost of that would be to turn that into a nice center,” he said. “And if not feasible there, then let’s look elsewhere or see if we need to build something.”

The buiLding behind the hospital had been considered for a center before, which would place it near the St. Joseph’s Lofts senior housing facility. Sketches of how the building could be developed into a functioning center were proposed, Schwinghamer said.

It has two floors and s blank inside. “We would basically be starting with a shell building, pretty much have a blank canvas,” Schwinghamer said.

If a location for the center is found and approved by city officials, Schwinghamer is looking at possibly using some federal or state money the city has received to fund the development.

“I’m hoping we can tie in some of these funds that we were able to get because of the quality of life things that they’re saying now that we can use certain funds for,” he said. “What better quality of life can we have than to give our seniors a great place to go and hang out with each other, involve themselves in activities and be active?”

Schwinghamer said it is important to fulfill this promise and give the seniors in Huntingburg their own freestanding center.

“They’ve been moved around to different places,” he told the Common Council Tuesday night. “It’s time we bring that up again and do something for them.”

The council also:

• Approved an ordinance to close a section of two alleys: one next to Mama T’s Italian Steakhouse and the other next to the former Overtime bar. The Huntingburg Board of Public Works recommended approval of the change. The ordinance is only restricting vehicles from traveling in those alleys; any other use of those alleys has not been determined, Schwinghamer said. “it’s just for safety precautions,” he said. Any use for those alleys would have to be presented to the council for funding as well as to the city public works board, City Attorney Phil Schneider said.

• Authorized the issuance of $1 million in economic development bonds to help with the $32.5 million Farbest Foods is investing in improvements and automation upgrades to its Huntingburg site.

• Approved a salary ordinance to allow the hiring of an events coordinator. Schwinghamer will use economic development funds to cover the position’s salary for two years.

• Approved a resolution to commit funds to the wastewater improvement project as part of the city’s $3 million application from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The council also approved applying for the grant and authorizing Schwinghamer to sign the forms that go with the application

• Amended the city’s comprehensive plan to include the countywide bike and pedestrian master plan.

• Set a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, which will be at the beginning of the council’s next meeting. The hearing is for the proposed ordinance to appropriate the $696,500 in recovery funding from the federal American Rescue Plan into the city’s established fund. The public hearing will be held in the council chambers at City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St.




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