Senior center work wins OK

Carroll moves forward without full state funding

Officials expect rest next year

Hampstead

May 15, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Although the county will not have all the expected state money in hand, the commissioners said yesterday they will proceed with nearly $500,000 in renovations to North Carroll Senior Center in Hampstead.

The commissioners approved $300,000 for the project in March and have included the sum in the county's fiscal 2003 budget, which they are expected to approve this month.

The remaining $195,000 was to arrive from the state during fiscal 2003, which begins July 1. Officials learned yesterday that the state is committing $63,750 to the project this year and will probably allocate the rest next year.

Jolene Sullivan, director of Carroll's Human Services Programs, said she is convinced the county will receive all the money the state promised by 2004.

Design work for the renovations, which will add 2,400 square feet to the center, will not begin until late this summer. Construction will not be finished until next year, Sullivan said.

"We can use our local match to begin the work," Sullivan said. "We usually get the entire amount up front from the state. The state is being fiscally responsible. The remaining money will be forthcoming."

North Carroll, the oldest, smallest and most popular of the county's five senior centers, draws about 1,100 residents a month. It has long outgrown its 5,000 square feet on the ground floor of the North Carroll library branch. A new building would have cost $2.5 million or more, if the county has to buy a building lot.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said the county was fully committed to the project and should proceed without all the grant money from the state.

"It makes no difference, as long as the money is there to pay for the work when it is done," said Dell.

Budget constraints have prompted the state's decision, Sullivan said.

"The state is doing the same thing we are doing to keep these projects moving," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge. "They are giving us part this year and part next year. It makes sense."

Carroll's over-60 population has grown to almost 22,000 in the past decade, a nearly 30 percent jump, and its senior centers are experiencing a corresponding demand for their programs. But, unlike North Carroll, most are coping with the growth.

North Carroll, which opened about 12 years ago, has no health room for blood pressure screenings or confidential sessions, no classrooms for courses such as driver education for seniors and little room for its staff.

Even with its addition, the North Carroll center will be smaller than South Carroll by nearly 4,000 square feet.

In South Carroll, $375,000 in renovations, paid for with a combination of state and county money, will begin soon. Within a year, the 60-year-old, one-time school building will have a new entrance, a spacious kitchen, a deck, larger interior spaces and updated offices.

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