Plans are coming together for a Skagway Senior Center

After years of planning and feasibility reports, Skagway’s senior center is getting closer to a reality. Since being appointed by Mayor Stan Selmer in March 2013, the Senior Ad Hoc Committee has been overseeing the project, guided by the committee mission statement, “Build a Skagway senior citizen center to include a commercial kitchen with dining/visiting area and expand to include senior housing.”

Shortly after the founding of the Senior Ad Hoc Committee, the Assembly passed a resolution in March 2013 dedicating the corner of 11th and Broadway as the site of the future center, says Emily Deach, Borough Clerk for the Municipality of Skagway.

According to financial feasibility reports provided by Deach and compiled by the Senior Ad Hoc Committee and Sustainable Solutions and Chi Partners, LLC, from November 2015, the community of Skagway wants to enhance and consolidate all senior services into one location.

Plans for the center include a central gathering place and services like meals and transportation. In addition, the Senior Ad Hoc Committee has plans to include second story apartments for interested seniors to make up for a deficit in senior-specific housing. Skagway is overall lacking in senior-dedicated housing, according to the information gathered for the November 2015 financial feasibility reports.

To initiate the project, the Senior Ad Hoc Committee collaborated with high school students on conceptual plans for the center in Spring 2013, and surveys were sent out to local seniors and compiled in June 2013. Soon after, the committee initiated conversation with NorthWind Architects to develop conceptual designs based off of the high school student plans. The committee also began looking at grant opportunities with Skagway Development Corporation (SDC), says Deach, and in Fall 2013, the committee made contact with the Foraker Group with the help of SDC.

The projected costs for the development of the center are $2.7 million, and adding the second story for senior apartments would cost $4.2 million, says Deach.

“The Assembly has showed support for funding the entire project at $6.9 million, rather than the initial plan of $2.7 million for just the center,” adds Deach.

As of February 2016, the Assembly approved funding the FY17 draft budget for $300,000 to $400,000 for design and engineering, says Deach.

“The FY17 budget should be officially approved by June 2016. In the meantime, the Senior Ad Hoc Committee is continuing to work on the design with Foraker Group and will continue to meet with the Assembly to determine the costs for design and engineering,” Deach adds. “We’re really moving forward with the planning phase, and we’re about to be ready for construction. We just need to have money approved from the FY17 budget. We’re really close.”