Senior Center is a gem worth saving

Thank you T-R for your excellent coverage of the devastating tornado that struck Marshalltown July 19. The four front page articles featuring the Senior Citizen Center building since then have been eye openers. We learned much about it’s colorful past. Since its purchase by the City of Marshalltown in 1975 for $64,750.00 it became a Marshalltown gem.

I remember when the past city councils installed new automatic doors, modernized the rest rooms on the first floor and kept up maintenance. Before the recent storm the mayor had expressed interest in closing the Senior Center. It seems that the $15,000 cost to the city is a big factor in selling the building and working to replace it with a new housing development. As I look at the area it appears demolition has progressed amazingly fast and could open up the area to the east to North Third Avenue for such development.

In recent years there have been multi-million dollar renovations of buildings older than the Senior Center. With the extensive damages along Main Street, such as the crumbling Fantles building, more options can be expected. Replacing Fantles with one similar to the one that replaced the Coast to Coast would be a big improvement to its present state.

I wish to thank Linda Clark for presenting our petition with 421 names to the city council. It asked that the insurance coverage be utilized “to restore the property to pre-tornado status” as intended. I understand that there was concern about this cost and I have not seen what is involved or an estimate of the amount, but a feasibility study, such as was done for the Veterans Coliseum, seems to have helped the city council to proceed with its renovation plans. Perhaps such a study could be obtained here, too.

Our county supervisors have stood Marshalltown Strong in dealing with the extensive damages to the courthouse. I recall when Marshall County voters rose up with “Save our Courthouse!” and their efforts were successful. What would Marshalltown have done if Lennox had not stood Marshalltown Strong? I felt much fear for the few days before we learned of its positive decision. Lennox could again produce heating and cooling units for replacement at the Senior Center. Together with new kitchen equipment and the replaced roof, the utility expenses should be greatly reduced.

Of concern also was a T-R notation that the city council took its vote not to stand strong for our senior citizens, including those that had petitioned for the Center to be restored, without the presence any members of the Senior Citizen Board of Directors. Could the vote have been postponed?

Recently we learned about the board of the House of Compassion making plans to raise funds including applying for grants to restore it from the storm damages. There are many sources of such grants. The Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation stands ready to assist the city in making such applications. It has a Dec. 1 deadline to be considered for its next round of board actions.

I will add another big thank you to the T.R. for the special Marshalltown Strong publication that we all received. However, it was sad it couldn’t add a Marshalltown Strong article about the restoration of our damaged gem of the Senior Citizens Center. It should be remembered that we seniors have been the foundation of support for many decades of growth and development through projects and improvements in Marshalltown and the surrounding areas (all of whom had the opportunity to benefit from the Center and its activities). It is my fervent hope that the council will re-visit their decision with the knowledge that quality of life for ALL of its citizens should not be determined by cost alone.