Need for new adult center becoming more apparent
NOTE: This is the fourth and final part in a series of stories on the Kathryn Heidenreich Adult Center.
KINGMAN - While the Kathryn Heidenreich Adult Center has served the community well since it was built in 1972, it appears to be the time to talk seriously about constructing a new facility.
Attorney William Porter does legal work for the center and serves as vice-president on its board of directors.
"The center is being hemmed in fast," he said.
"When it was built it was the only thing there and was nicely situated where we did not have a lot of traffic congestion and businesses.
"The area now is built up heavily and continuing to increase at a fast pace. It does not keep the center from serving our seniors well, but it perhaps makes it a little harder to get there and makes their experience a little less pleasant."
Porter said one light (at the Airway Avenue entrance to Wal-Mart) is so close to the center it makes it hard to exit the center's parking lot and see just where traffic is coming from.
Kingman Mayor Les Byram said some people have voiced concerns to him over safety.
"I'd say it's time to build a newer and bigger center," Byram said. "I'm sure the people using it would like a new one, too."
Darel Fruhwirth, director of the Kingman Parks and Recreation Department, said the center has some limitations due to additions made to it since the original construction.
He anticipates a larger growth of senior users and would like to be better able to serve them with programs and classes conducted at the center through his department.
Of course, the biggest questions are where a new center might be built and how would it be paid for.
"We possibly could work out a land arrangement for a group to build a new center on," said Mohave County District I Supervisor Pete Byers.
"There's nothing available but some general fund money (from the county) to build a facility like that, and when you have courts and jails to build and run there's no simple answer. It might be built with some type of joint money as was done with the new senior center in Lake Havasu if we could come up with the land."
County and city entities would have to come together to make it happen. Byers added a new center is needed in Bullhead City as well.
Federal funds from community development block grants appear the most likely answer.
"The city has allocated grant money to the adult center for improvements over the past couple of years," said Bill Shilling, grants administrator for the city of Kingman. "They've made kitchen, bathroom and access improvements for the handicapped - things like that.
"They could apply again, and once they qualify, it would go before the City Council to determine if they receive funds and in what dollar amount."
The city applies for and receives a CDBG through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development every other year. About $700,000 is expected for the grant this year, an increase of about $50,000 over the amount received in 2004, Shilling said.
When the adult center applies for CDBG funds it is treated as any other applicant. City Council members look at the request and weigh its benefit to the community, elderly and low-income residents, he said.
"There are quantity and quality thresholds all applicants must meet," Shilling said.
"Quality in the sense of how it serves the community and quantity in the sense of whether it meets low and moderate income thresholds to beneficiaries or a combination of those thresholds."
There is no movement at this time toward constructing a new adult center, Porter said.
"I keep hearing rumors either the city or county will offer us a new home and use the existing facility for something else," Porter said. "But there's nothing concrete on the drawing boards now.
"The fact it operates smoothly by and large with so many programs is fortunate. We've received a number of living gifts over the years that have enabled the center to remain financially solvent.
"We owe the city a debt of thanks for supporting us. In return, they get senior programs managed by an entity capable of doing it."
Porter added he could not hazard a guess as to the cost of construction for a new adult center, which is still a few years down the road.
Byram said it could be a joint project of the city, county and community. Financing might take a community drive as well as pooling of city and county funds to "make something happen."
"Everything must start with our citizens," Fruhwirth said. "The community must say it's important and this is what we want in the way of services and activities.
"We must tell our elected officials this is a high priority. If it's what seniors want, then it would behoove the city, county and Heidenreich board to make the best facility possible."