Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hugh Smith or Senior Center (2014 Bond Issue)

The time to determine the contents of the 2014 Bond Issue is at hand.  The Citizens Bond Committee has spoken and what they have determined through hours of diligent work is that the Bond Issue will be 193 million dollars.  In that 193 million, 133 will be for roads.  Of the 60 million that is left over, two large capital projects were selected to be accomplished.  1)  25 million for a recreation center in the southeast area of our city.  2)  25.3 million for a 67,000 sq/ft combination East Library and New Hugh Smith Recreation Center, in east Arlington.  This was the original plan for the Bond package until it got to Council.

When it got to Council, Jimmy Bennett proposed an additional year to the issue and the total increased to 242 million for a four year period.  The increase of 49 million will all go to roads, although this was not Jimmy’s plan.  So we still only have the original 60 million for capital projects.  One year ago I proposed a Senior Recreation Center to be constructed in the west or northwest, where majority of our seniors reside.  This center would be like the Summit over in Grand Prairie.  Right now we allow the YMCA’s to accommodate the need for our seniors at $30 per month.  I recognize this need and I’m trying to do something about it, but the Council needs your input.  So contact them.

My plan is to cancel one dead end road project at 5.4 million, cancel the energy efficient street light bulbs at 3.0 million and a parking lot renewal for River Legacy Park for 1.0 million.  If we do not move fire station one we can save another .4 million and take .3 away from the 25.3 for Hugh Smith and that would give us 10.2 million to knock down Hugh Smith and rebuild it to a size commensurate with it’s utilization.  The new library would go away until other funds could be located to add it to the construction project or we could partner with AISD as Dr. Cavazos has urged because they will be constructing a new library a couple of blocks down the road.

Then it would be my intention to take the 25 million and construct a 60,000 sq/ft Recreation Center for Adults that would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 per month for membership.  In the first year that the Summit was built, membership was 6,000.  It has been in existence for four years now and the membership has stabilized at 5,500.  It is a remarkably active and vibrant facility, and something that our seniors deserve.  In the last four years Euless, Grand Prairie and Irving have all met the need of their seniors by constructing Senior Centers. North Richland Hills has given the seniors lip service with their Multi-Generational Center.  Possible locations would be either a location central to downtown, Dottie Lynn area or Randol Mill Park.  With this location and the need of our seniors in Arlington, I would estimate memberships around the 8,000 level.  Please contact your City Council and let them know what Your desires are for this Bond Issue.    


  1. I think only fair that retirees who have frozen property taxes and voted FOR the billion-dollar AISD bond issue should be exempted from any membership discounts. Since they voted to increase property taxes for the rest of us, they should bear ALL costs associated with any senior center that might be constructed.

    If the current market will support the YMCA at $30.00/month, why the plan to charge only $5.00 for members at a city-owned facility? Operating costs alone will FAR exceed membership revenues, and thus this facility will become another unsustainable liability for the rest of taxpayers.

    What do the other suburbs you mention charge for membership/usage fees? Exactly what do you mean when you state "we 'allow' the YMCA to accommodate" seniors? The Y is a stand-alone business that exists because it provides a community need. Is the city of Arlington trying to compete with or close down the YMCA?

    By my math, using your estimate of 5,000 members at $5.00/month, it will cost 83 YEARS to pay off this facility, not including interest. This figure also does not include a single operating expense. Assuming a 35 - 40 year lifespan of the facility, as that seems to be about the age the city deems an existing building to be eligible for demolition and replacement, (Re: main library and council chambers... gotta keep up with everyone else!) this senior center will probably become a future council's 'eyesore' and be targeted for demolition by 2050. And it won't have been paid off.

    Also, what is the 'dead end' road project? If the street lights can be retrofitted to save utility costs and savings can be reaped immediately, why delay this project?

    Don't misunderstand me, I think a senior center would be a very nice amenity to have... but there is only so much money to go 'round and a great many seniors voted FOR the school bond issue simply because they wouldn't have to pay for it. People should not be allowed to vote for taxpayer-sponsored benefits if they will be exempted from paying for them. Because we have a mayor who has a perverted fascination with filling the city with people who pay NO taxes at all, the burden grows heavier on those of us who ARE taxed, taxed, taxed. Maybe if he were more concerned with attracting a higher demographic instead of attracting a majority of people who 'qualify' for federal subsidies, we'd have a larger, more diversified tax base, and more citizens able to pay for these amenities.

    Something to think about when the next apartment complex project crosses the council's desk.

  2. I just served on an aging focus group through UTA. One of the things we discussed was how much the seniors need an inexpensive center besides the Parks & Recreation Center on Edna. A new Recreation Center for Adults (or add services to Odem also) would be fantastic. As our aging census increases there is more and more need. Also this could be a central clearing house where seniors could find out what is available to them.


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