Partnering with City of Prineville to apply for Community Block Grant for about $930,000

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Improvements needed to the aging senior center building include new paving of parking lot, repair of ramps leading up to front door as well as new interior flooring and kitchen equipment.

The Prineville Soroptimist Senior Center needs many repairs, and facility leaders are hoping to fund them with the help of a state grant program.

Andrew Spreadborough has been working with the Soroptimist Charitable Trust to land a Community Development Block Grant for more than a year. An effort to get the grant in 2016 was denied, although that had more to do with competition for the money than the proposed use of the funding.

"We worked to remedy some of the issues that caused that turndown, and we have been invited by the State (of Oregon) to submit a reapplication," said Spreadborough, NeighborImpact's deputy executive director, during a recent Prineville City Council meeting.

The senior center was built in 1965, Spreadborough said, and was home to a bowling alley until it was converted to a senior facility in 1979. He noted that since that time, the building has gradually developed issues with its roof, its heating and cooling system, and its parking lot. The ramps leading to the front door of the building have also begun to deteriorate and since they are not covered overhead, they tend to ice up and cause safety hazards for patrons.

The interior flooring has become a safety hazard as well, with tiles breaking and creating trip hazards, and the kitchen equipment needs upgraded to keep up with the demand for daily lunches and the Meals on Wheels program.

Spreadborough approached the city council about this issue because only city or county governments can apply for a Community Block Grant.

"Although the city doesn't own or operate the senior center building, only city or county governments can apply for this specific funding source," he explained.

If the grant were awarded, it would not be the first time that the senior center has benefitted from this particular program. Spreadborough noted that a remodel to the facility took place in 2003 and 2004 that was funded by the same grant.

The city council was willing to apply for the Community Action Grant in 2016 and during the meeting earlier this month, they expressed a willingness to do so again. Also, a public hearing was held during the council meeting, as required by the grant program, and nobody spoke in opposition to it.

"The city is eligible to apply for up to $1.5 million to support this type of project," Spreadborough said, before adding that they would not likely need that much. "We are going to be requesting somewhere in the neighborhood of $930,000. All of those funds would be used for physical improvements to the senior center building."

Spreadborough, Soroptimists and city officials now have until the end of December to officially apply for the grant.

"It's a worthy project," Spreadborough concluded.

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