Hermiston’s seniors are making do with a church basement after losing their old senior center, but construction is in full swing for their new home downtown.
Parks and recreation director Larry Fetter said construction is on track to wrap up sometime in the spring, although it’s too soon to say what month. Already, the concrete for the Harkenrider Center’s daylight basement is in place and crews from G2 Construction are putting up beams for walls on the main level.
“Trusses for the roof are scheduled to arrive Sept. 18, and then things will really be shaping up at that point,” Fetter said.
The city’s senior citizens found themselves in need of a new gathering place after the former fairgrounds in the middle of town, which included the senior center building, were sold to Hermiston School District as part of the deal that resulted in the new Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. The school district has started demolishing the fairgrounds to make room for more parking, ballfields and other improvements.
“The old building should be coming down any time,” Fetter said.
After the seniors struggled to raise the money needed to build a new center, the city stepped in and procured a $2 million federal community development block grant and agreed to use money from its own general fund to add a parking lot and daylight basement. During the interim leading up to the Harkenrider Center’s completion, Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church is allowing the seniors to serve meals on Tuesdays and Thursday at the church and hold other activities there.
Fetter said the senior center board is pitching in to help make the new senior center a reality, most recently by working to recruit a grant writer to help come up with the money for furnishings and appliances to stock the commercial kitchen, offices, breakout rooms and a spacious main room that will include a gas fireplace and billiards.
“They’ve been pretty involved,” Fetter said. “They’ve got their hands full with furnishings.”
The center will also have an elevator and staircase to reach an unfinished basement, and there will be access on the back side to a landscaped outdoor seating area and paths that lead to the front of the building and Highway 395. The building and parking lot will meet all ADA requirements.
Fetter said the city is partnering with the school district — which leased the land for the senior center to the city — and with service groups to put landscaping, lighting and an interpretive panel around the old Armand Larive arch.
“We’re planning to do some uplighting and really make it a centerpiece,” Fetter said.
Contact Jade McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4536.