Plans approved for new Westminster senior center 1 commissioner preferred different site

July 15, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Over an objection by Carroll County Commissioner Donald I. Dell that another location might be more suitable, the county commissioners have approved plans to build a new Westminster senior citizens center off Bishop Street.

The center is planned for a nine-acre site owned by the county behind Change Inc. and the Winchester Country Inn.

"I think there is a superior site," Mr. Dell said Tuesday. However, he said he would not identify the site he has in mind, because the county does not own it.

He said the Bishop Street site, next to the Carroll County Health Department and Carroll County General Hospital, was earmarked in the 1970s to be a medical campus.

"I envision some outpatient facilities there in the future," such as doctors' offices, Mr. Dell said later.

He suggested that before the commissioners approve the planned senior center, they meet with representatives of Carroll County General Hospital to ask if the hospital plans to use the land in the future.

Keith Kirschnick, county director of public works, said the hospital's 20-year development plan includes no use of the site.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge defended the Bishop Street location for the senior center.

"I think it's important to put the center where the people are," she said. Seniors living in Timber Ridge Apartments and Ridge Residences, two senior housing developments next to the site, would be able to walk to the new center, she said.

Jolene G. Sullivan, director of the Carroll County Department of Citizen Services, said the two senior housing developments include 180 units. A majority of people who use the current Westminster Senior Citizens center come from the two developments, she said, and they would make up the majority of people using the new center.

Ms. Sullivan said it would be convenient to put the senior center near the hospital, because it would allow the hospital to prepare meals for the center, and it would allow the seniors immediate access to preventive and emergency health care.

Thomas J. Rio, chief of the county Bureau of Building Construction, showed the commissioners schematic drawings of the planned 27,700-square-foot building. He said the drawings are subject to change, and that Ms. Sullivan and Bureau of Aging Chief Janet B. Flora must review the drawings to make sure the building fits their programs' needs.

Mr. Rio told the commissioners he believes architects Colimore-Clarke Associates Inc., of Baltimore, "really have listened to us carefully," and planned the center with the county's needs in mind.

The one-story building will have a metal roof and a reddish-brown brick facade, he said.

"They really made a conscious effort to pick up a lot of the architectural elements" of nearby buildings, such as the Carroll County Farm Museum, Mr. Rio said.

He said the center is expected to cost $3.3 million, and it is scheduled to open in the spring of 1995.

At the site off Bishop Street, Mr. Rio said, "we have more than enough room to spread out" if either the senior center or its parking area needs to expand in the future.

He said a portion of the center is designed so it can be closed off from the rest of the building, allowing community groups evening access to a multipurpose room, three classrooms, a conference room and a multipurpose and exercise room.

The Westminster Senior Citizens Center and the Carroll County Bureau of Aging are now crowded in the old schoolhouse building on Schoolhouse Avenue in Westminster.

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