Grand Traverse reaffirms Senior Center pledge, leaves funding questions alone | Local News

TRAVERSE CITY – The Grand Traverse County Board approved a resolution to work with city officials on a capital campaign to fund a new senior citizen center on the bay where it is now.

The resolution to confirm the cooperation in the construction of a new senior citizen center reaffirms the determination of the county to work with the city to get it built. She is also providing $ 25,000 per year for four years to hire a consultant for a joint campaign with the city.

While all six commissioners present supported the resolution, not all were in favor of fundraising. Instead, they said voters should decide whether to support a Millage to fund the replacement of the old, outdated senior citizen center.

Inspector Ron Clous was absent.

Commissioner Bryce Hundley called the center an “urban hub” used by people across the county. He supports putting the question on the ballot.

“There are 100,000 people in the county,” Hundley said. “If they didn’t want to, they’d tell us pretty clearly.”


Commissioner Betsy Coffia said she was concerned that the resolution will be rolled back to 2018 and that any work already done will be ignored, including a Millage request that never got on the ballot.

It also specifically instructs county staff to work with city staff “to effect fundraising,” and says nothing over a million, she said.

Coffia said she would like an ad hoc committee form between the city and the county to discuss funding options that, in addition to a millage or capital campaign, could consider whether the American Rescue Plan Act money could be used. An October letter from Traverse City Manager Marty Colburn requested this committee.

Coffia asked for the resolution to be tabled until the city could be included in the funding discussion, adding in a friendly amendment that a millage was still being considered. Her motion was denied 4 to 2 and Hundley joined her to vote “yes”.

Rob Hentschel


The board chairman Rob Hentschel said he does not support a nationwide mill because the center is not used by the whole county. There are five centers in the county at Fife Lake, Kingsley, Acme and Interlochen, in addition to the Traverse City location. These people may never use it, he said.

Hentschel said he didn’t see a fundraiser going on for more than four years.

Commissioner Brad Jewett said the resolution did not preclude a future millage. What it does is move things forward, he said.

Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers spoke during the public comment, saying he supported the re-approval of the 2018 resolution and said the city is ready to work with the county on the project.

Following the 2018 agreement, the city held focus groups and hired an architect to design a new senior citizen center in Milliken Park, where it is now. It was then that the Senior Center Friends came up with the idea of ​​asking voters a Millage question in order to fund the $ 5.58 million project.

“Don’t waste money on consultants,” said Carruthers. “Let’s not waste any more time … We have seniors who would like to see this building while they are alive.”

Hal Gurian of Long Lake Township said he thinks the city should build the new center.

“We need a new senior center, but I don’t think Grand Traverse County’s taxpayers should pay for it,” Gurian said.

Bridget Frank, who teaches Pilates at the senior center, said everyone at the focus groups that took place after Resolution 2018 had ample opportunity to get involved.

Much time and money has already been spent and it is time to move forward, said Frank.

When the original resolution was passed three years ago, the county allocated $ 250,000 to the project. This money stays in the fund.

Hentschel wrote the resolution in response to so-called misinformation about the location of the center. There were rumors that it would be postponed, he said.

“This is very confusing because the center is not owned by the district,” said Hentschel. “The county can’t postpone … the only way to stop programming at this location would be if the city of Traverse City didn’t want us.”

Hentschel said the county is considering building a senior services building on county owned land on Lafranier Road. The building would create a new home for the Aging, Veterans Affairs Commission and Senior Citizens Center Network, which now has offices in the Senior Citizens’ Center at 801 Front St. It could also have a common room for advanced programs.

An ad hoc committee of the county’s Park and Recreation Commission was formed to look into merging the agencies into a building that Hentschel said never contained a plan to move the senior citizen center to that location.

The center is in the city’s own park, and some commissioners have shied away from erecting a building on land that does not belong to the county.

The current senior citizen center is owned by the city and leased to the county under a management contract that expires in December.

It is operated by the county Senior Center Network, which has a $ 0.0972 million property tax that collects approximately $ 530,500 per year and pays for programming at all five center locations.

The city and district were also unable to agree on the extension of the lease.

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