Break­ing ground in the SCV

Plans for new se­nior cen­ter get un­der­way on Golden Val­ley Road

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Gina En­der Sig­nal Staff Writer

With white hard hats on, se­nior cen­ter staff, elected of­fi­cials and com­mu­nity mem­bers broke ground on the new SCV Se­nior Cen­ter Wednesday to re­place an ag­ing cen­ter which first opened nearly four decades ago.

About 200 at­ten­dees gath­ered on Golden Val­ley Road to kick off con­struc­tion on the $11.4 mil­lion build­ing that will re­place the ex­ist­ing

struc­ture on Market Street in Ne­whall.

“We’re here to break some ground, break some dirt and we’re also here to turn a page in our his­tory,” said SCV Se­nior Cen­ter Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Kevin Mac­Don­ald. “This new venue gives us the op­por­tu­nity for a fresh start and re­ally to open our eyes to the many pos­si­bil­i­ties that are be­fore us.”

The con­trac­tor for the pro­ject will be se­lected next week and full-fledged con­struc­tion will start around Thanks­giv­ing. Doors are ex­pected to open at the new cen­ter in Septem­ber or Oc­to­ber of next year.

The two-story build­ing will be 30,000 square feet, triple the size of the cur­rent cen­ter. Do­na­tions are still be­ing ac­cepted to meet the fundrais­ing goal.

To equip se­niors with all-en­com­pass­ing ser­vices, the new cen­ter will fea­ture as­sis­tance in fi­nances, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, well­ness, se­nior rights and ca­reer devel­op­ment.

“We’re also build­ing a place of ac­cep­tance and com­fort, a place of love and a place where peo­ple can gather to just to en­joy life,” Mac­Don­ald said.

An es­ti­mated 120,000 meals will be served at the new cen­ter each year and over 50,000 par­tic­i­pants will take part in recre­ational and well­ness ac­tiv­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to Mac­Don­ald.

The cen­ter will house a ban­quet hall, a fire­place lounge and li­brary, six multi-pur­pose rooms, a fit­ness cen­ter, a dance stu­dio and an out­door ca­bana.

Cen­ter staff said they are still open to sug­ges­tions in the com­ing months for what com­mu­nity mem­bers would like to see in the new cen­ter.

More than 9,600 se­niors are pro­jected to be in the Santa Clarita Val­ley within the next four years, the to­tal num­ber of se­niors is ex­pected to rise to 42,000 by 2022, ac­cord­ing to Se­nior Cen­ter Board Mem­ber Emer­i­tus Don Kim­ball.

“It’s re­ally been a chal­lenge for our ex­ist­ing lo­ca­tion on Market Street to meet the needs of our grow­ing se­nior pop­u­la­tion,” Kim­ball said. “We all knew the only real so­lu­tion going for­ward was going to be a new cen­ter.”

The new cen­ter meets the key needs the cen­ter iden­ti­fied for a new build­ing, in­clud­ing be­ing on a large piece of land, be­ing rel­a­tively af­ford­able and be­ing cen­trally-lo­cated in the val­ley, Kim­ball said.

Pro­vid­ing this new lo­ca­tion will fa­cil­i­tate a com­mu­nity for se­niors to en­joy one an­other’s com­pany, ac­cord­ing to Board Pres­i­dent Peggy Ras­mussen, who served as a co-chair for the cap­i­tal cam­paign to fundraise for the cen­ter.

“This is a build­ing that we would like to house a se­nior com­mu­nity,” Ras­mussen said. “That is ex­actly what se­niors do. We mi­grate to­wards each other.”

When the pro­ject was first be­ing con­cep­tu­al­ized, the city coun­cil do­nated $3 mil­lion to its con­struc­tion. At Tues­day’s coun­cil meet­ing the day prior to the ground break­ing, the coun­cil ap­proved an ad­di­tional $500,000 to help bridge a $1 mil­lion gap in fund­ing.

“For us on the coun­cil, help­ing sup­port and con­tribut­ing in all the work that is going on and all the part­ner­ships we have with the se­nior cen­ter, that is ex­actly what we were elected to do,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said. “That is ex­actly what a lo­cal gov­ern­ment is for.”

Shar­ing feel­ings of be­ing “hum­bled, proud and ex­cited,” As­sem­bly­man Dante Acosta said he was happy to have pre­vi­ously served on the city coun­cil when it ap­proved fund­ing for the new cen­ter.

“I’m so proud that I live in a com­mu­nity that took the time, the ef­fort, the money to make this kind of com­mit­ment to build this cen­ter,” Acosta said.

Long-time se­nior cen­ter vol­un­teer David Garetto-Bar­nett said he has con­tin­ued to spend his time there be­cause of the sense of belonging it brings. He looks for­ward to see­ing how the new cen­ter does this for fu­ture se­niors and vol­un­teers.

“That en­ergy was so con­ta­gious,” Garetto-Bar­nett said. “It’s the same en­ergy that keeps the clients com­ing back.”

Gina En­der/The Sig­nal

Dig­ni­taries break ground on the new SCV Se­nior Cen­ter on Golden Val­ley Road on Wednesday.

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