New life emerges for Gladstone Senior Center
New life is springing up at the Gladstone Senior Center, which is returning to full operations after a roofing project went terribly wrong and largely closed its services for six months.
Colin Black, the center's manager, says that classes are resuming this month following the hiatus due to flooding. He envisioned new garden boxes in front of the center becoming a source for the dill served in the senior center's tartar sauce and the spinach served on its salad bar.
"It'll been a dream of mine for a long time, and I'm glad that it's coming true thanks to the generosity of the county, the city and the foundation," Black said.
A year ago, the Senior Center roof was in "dire straits," according to a city staff report. The center's heating-ventilation-and-air-conditioning unit had to be replaced, and the building needed pressure washing and painting. The city had no money budgeted for these facility repairs, but the Gladstone Seniors Foundation stepped up with well over $100,000 in donated funds over the years. The next city budget will include approximately $15,000 for the painting.
Then on Oct. 25, the Senior Center experienced significant water damage from rain that penetrated holes in the roof. Leaks starting in the kitchen spread throughout the building, destroying carpets and walls. Due to health and safety concerns, the building was largely closed to the public for several months (see sidebar for more information).
At a foundation-sponsored luncheon last month celebrating the reopening of the center, Black thanked the approximately 100 people in attendance for their patience throughout the construction projects.
"I know it was not fun coming down here, and we missed you all tremendously," Black told the attendees.
Black thanked the Pioneer Center in Oregon City for hosting busloads of Gladstone seniors for daily hot lunches while the Gladstone Senior Center was closed.
In addition to the work on the building itself, its front lawn facing Gladstone's main street, Portland Avenue, has also had recently completed projects. Built in 1981, the Gladstone center's facade recently got a new patio that will feature gardening beds that can be accessed by people in wheelchairs.
Katie Ellerby, a member of the Gladstone Senior Center Advisory Board, thinks the public would be interested in all the community donations the garden has received. Clackamas County OSU Extension certified master gardeners have offered their expertise and volunteer time on the project.
"A Girl Scout group has volunteered to physically fill the boxes with potting soil," Ellerby added.
Black thanked Dr. Candace Krause, who runs Gladstone Family Dentistry right across the street, for donating six 3-foot square cedar planter beds. He also was appreciative of a county grant.
Black had asked county officials for $22,000 for construction and was grateful to receive half of that request from the county. After contractor Barclay's Garden & More donated some labor, Black said the remaining $4,700 was donated by the Gladstone Senior Center Foundation.
"They are not simply above-ground gardening beds; they're elevated gardening beds so that people using wheelchairs can use them," Black said. "My goal here was to provide a space so people using the center can participate in the production of freshly grown produce to be served."
No city money will be used to run or operate the garden, and any staff involvement will be on their own personal time. City staff contributed labor and equipment to the outdoor landscaping project. Thanks to Gladstone Public Works and local high school interns, a Japanese maple and six rose bushes that were in the way of the patio construction were transplanted and are thriving on the north side of the Gladstone Senior Center.
"Nothing was wasted, and I'm very proud of that," Black said.
Nothing will go to waste from the center's new gardening beds either, Black promised. Extra food will be donated to home-bound seniors or the Gladstone Food Pantry.
"I plan to have a couple of hanging baskets, maybe strawberries or tomatoes," Black said. "Hopefully we'll get funds to put a fence and get the whole thing looking nicer. We're looking to purchase handicapped-adapted tools for people. We're also planning to build a working bench for potting, a storage shed and an arbor for shade."
Legal case in works
City Administrator Jacque Betz said that Gladstone and its insurance carrier have filed legal efforts to recover damages from Titan Roofing for the roof-replacement debacle at the Gladstone Senior Center. Based in Vancouver, Washington, Titan Roofing is the same company that is being held responsible for a catastrophically leaking roof at the Umatilla County Courthouse, as reported by the East Oregonian. Betz said Citycounty Insurance Services is strategizing its legal efforts in making claims against Titan Roofing.
Gladstone City Council declared an emergency on Dec. 11 to authorize Betz to conduct emergency procurements for the Senior Center in accordance with state law. City officials are also crediting the Gladstone Seniors Foundation with keeping the building afloat.
"This as an incredible gesture made by the Senior Center Foundation," Betz said. "The costs will exceed roughly $115,000, however the improvements will sustain the viability of the building for many years to come."
Gladstone Seniors Foundation is a registered nonprofit in the state of Oregon, making donations to the Senior Center tax-deductible. A link to more information about the foundation and a form to make a donation is on the city's website, ci.gladstone.or.us.