The City of Forest Grove and the federal CDBG program are contributing to the overhaul.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Some of the kitchen appliances at the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center are about 40 years old, if not older.The Forest Grove Senior & Community Center will undergo extensive remodeling of its kitchen area starting Monday, July 2.

Officials with both the senior center and the City of Forest Grove, which owns the building, said the impact of remodeling work will have little effect on center operations — other than to render senior dining at the center temporarily unavailable.

"The dining room and other facilities will still be available," said Jeff King, Forest Grove's economic development manager.

The senior center announced Friday, June 29, that starting on Monday, July 9, senior dining services will be offered at the nearby Sonrise Church, located at 2835 19th Ave. in Forest Grove.

Senior dining is a popular feature at the center, allowing older residents to enjoy an affordable lunch with friends and neighbors. The program is offered through the Meals on Wheels People, a regional nonprofit organization that both delivers and serves meals to seniors.

"Menus are the same, volunteers are the same, diners are the same," said Julie Piper Finley, a spokeswoman for the Meals on Wheels People. The one-week interruption in dining services is simply because it will take time for equipment to be moved to the temporary site, she explained.

In the meantime, on Thursday, July 5, and Friday, July 6, local seniors can come to the senior center for free sandwiches and coffee.

"We want our patrons to continue to enjoy their time at the center with

friends throughout the remodel," said Raean Johnson, executive director of the senior center, in a statement this week.

Meals on Wheels home delivery will also continue without any interruption, Piper Finley confirmed. Because most meals are delivered cold, they usually do not require an on-site oven, she said, so the commercial kitchen at the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center not being available doesn't pose as big a challenge for prepared meals as it does for meals served in the dining room.

The Meals on Wheels People will be temporarily relocating to the Sonrise Church.

"This happens to us on occasion, because we have almost 30 neighborhood centers in three different counties," said Piper Finley. "We have partnerships with all kinds of different groups around the city, and when we need to move temporarily, we usually have pretty good luck finding someone who will take us in for a few months."

Of the church, she added, "It's really not a huge burden for their building, because we're not there at their peak time. So it really works out well for both of us."

The senior center building dates back to the 1970s, and King said some of the appliances and fixtures in the kitchen are original, which would make them about 40 years old or more. That's not quite old enough for them to qualify for meal assistance if they were Forest Grove residents — the Meals on Wheels People deliver to people above age 60 — but it's old enough that the city and senior center agreed that it's time for some upgrades.

"One of the other original reasons that we made the application is that there has been so much demand — increasing demand, over the years," King added.

Work is expected to continue until Nov. 16.

In spite of the inconvenience to seniors and other center users that will be caused by the senior center's commercial kitchen being unavailable for the better part of five months, King said the improvements will be worth it.

"The finished project is important enough that once the project is done, there will be quite a benefit," King said.

The project cost is about $740,000, with $275,000 being contributed by the city and $40,000 from the senior center, a separate nonprofit organization that leases the building space. A community fundraising effort last year helped the senior center put up its share of the money.

The remaining costs are being paid for through community development block grant funding, from a federal grant program that has often been used in Washington County and around the country for improvements to senior centers and other public-use facilities. In fact, the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center building itself was originally constructed with CDBG funding, King noted.

The general contractor for the work is Lake Oswego-based First Cascade Corp.

The Forest Grove Senior & Community Center is located at 2037 Douglas St. in Forest Grove, about two blocks east of the Pacific University campus. Its hours are unaffected by the remodeling work, with the building opening as usual between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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