A committee’s wise choice of a clinic building deserves the strong support of the Port Washington city government
Now we’re getting someplace. We’re getting closer to a new Port Washington senior citizens center. We’re getting there physically and politically.
The committee tasked with finding new quarters for a senior center has struck gold in its choice of a building currently housing a clinic on the west side of the city. The choice shines both in the suitability of the building and in the evident support for it by the city government.
As recently as last January the city administrator was saying it was unlikely the city would provide a senior citizen center after the lease expires on the current center and an alderman serving on the city’s Commission on Aging even questioned the need for a center.
Now that same alderman, Bill Driscoll, is praising the choice of the clinic, suggesting that the city would contribute money toward its purchase and assuring the public that the city government has no intention of “getting rid of the senior center.”
That is exactly what the senior citizens of Port Washington want to hear. It is, in fact, what every citizen should want to hear, because the clinic acquisition stands to benefit the entire community.
The building earmarked for the senior center is the farther west of two Aurora clinics in Port Washington that the health care provider plans to consolidate into one. A single-story structure on West Grand Avenue with more than 12,000 square feet of space and a large parking lot, the building is not only a good fit for the wellness and recreational programs for seniors, but has space for other city uses, possibly a community center or offices for the Parks and Recreation Department.
The priority, though, is the senior center. The remodeled church in a residential neighborhood in which it currently resides has proven unsatisfactory, and the city’s decision to leave that building when the lease ends is sound. So too is the realization by officials that going without a replacement is not an option.
Port Washington has provided a senior center for 43 years, and this certainly is no time to stop, with the ranks of seniors growing as never before. In Ozaukee County, the 65-and-older population today is more than 30% larger than it was in 2000. The merits of senior centers that keep older residents active and engaged in the community have been affirmed time and again.
The ad hoc strategic planning committee formed by the Commission on Aging has done yeoman service in doggedly investigating numerous possibilities for a new senior center in the face of many challenges, including daunting cost and, at times, flagging enthusiasm on the part of the city government. The committee’s arrival at the clinic choice puts an exclamation point on the kudos for its good work.
As part of the committee’s work, a survey sent to Port Washington residents showed support for private fundraising to help pay for a new center. This will certainly come into play in the clinic acquisition, but city funding will be essential as well—justified for a senior center and all the more so if the building can serve another city need.
Among the manifold assets of the clinic as a senior center is its location on the west edge of Port Washington, which would make it convenient for Saukville seniors to join and help support the center.
The ad hoc planning committee’s stellar efforts deserve the strong support of the city government, which should make the healthy choice of the clinic to house the senior center.