Senior Advisory Board members share views on senior center proposal

With a vote expected at Tuesday’s Killeen City Council meeting related to the Bob Gilmore Senior Center, several members of the city’s Senior Advisory Board have weighed in on the matter.

The council is expected to vote on the approval of a $543,825 professional services agreement with Randall Scott Architects, Inc. This would be for a renovation of the Rosa Hereford Community Center, located on Veterans Memorial Boulevard adjacent to the Gilmore Center, to accommodate facilities to be used by Killeen seniors. The assessment and concept plan study was completed in June 2020, and funding is included in the city budget for the current fiscal year.

At it’s January 19 workshop, when the item was discussed, Councilmembers Mellisa Brown, Ken Wilkerson and Rick Williams raised a number of concerns about the proposed renovation, ranging from concerns about merging the senior center with one that hosts youth activities, reducing programs and services for seniors and others.

On Thursday the Killeen Senior Advisory Board met and discussed the project. Several members believed that Brown, Wilkerson and Williams were not fully informed about the proposed agreement and the work that has gone into its development.

Since the funding for the project stems from federal grants, it cannot be used for other purposes, including youth services, an issue raised at the workshop. Thus, if the council does not approve the agreement, the funding will revert back to the federal government.

Senior Advisory Board member Patsy Bracey supports the proposed agreement.

“It think we should progress with what she had,” Bracey said on Monday.

Bracey noted other Texas cites which are doing similar, “multi generational” projects, such as Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, and that the center would meet the needs of seniors on the north side of Killeen.

“The seniors need this building,” she said, noting that this funding would come through a federal grant program, and that such funding would have to revert back to the federal government if it is not used. “It’s a means of saving money for the city.”

Bracey noted that the project predates Brown, Wilkerson and Williams being elected to the council, and that they should have done more research on it.

“We’ve been working on this for three years,” she said, also noting that, despite a misconception, seniors do not have to pay for most services the center offers.

Board member Barbara Hinkle took a more conciliatory approach, believing that the three council members raised the concerns they did because they are new.

“I honestly don’t think they were against it, they just wanted more information,” Hinkle said.

With respect to the notion of sharing the senior facility with one that serves youth as well, Hinkle noted that most of the senior activities are during the day, when children are not there. She also noted that isolation for many seniors is very difficult, especially for ones without their own transportation.

“This is something really needed by the seniors,” she said. “It gives them something to look forward to.”

Board member Bill Barker echoed Hinkle’s opinion about the three new councilmembers.

“They weren’t really informed on it,” Barker said, noting that the project was brought before the council long before they were elected to it.

Barker also approved of the work City Recreation Services Director Joe Brown has done in developing the project.

“I think he did a good job,” Barker said. “I think the seniors deserve this place.”

swilson@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7463

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