The Senior Center here could see an assortment of upgrades in the near future thanks to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money.
Chowchilla City Council unanimously approved a plan on Tuesday to direct $366,000 in federal funds toward the center.
The city got $1 million in HUD Community Development Block Grant funding last year, according to city records. It needs to show HUD that it is spending the money on approved upgrades in the city to be eligible for more funding, said Carolyn Lehr, the interim city administrator.
She said the upgrades are especially needed because the center could be used as a shelter under emergency weather conditions. “It makes it all the more important that that center be in proper condition,” she said.
The plans for the center call for the replacement of the building’s different types of flooring – improvements that are meant to make the structure more friendly to people who use walkers or wheelchairs. The new flooring should also make the building more energy efficient.
Other improvements include updating the heating and cooling system, replacing ceiling fans and adding energy-efficient blinds. Still more improvements would refurbish the cabinetry, replace the refrigerator and add a speaker system.
Marty Piepenbrok, the community relations manager for the city, said the center has existed in town for many years but was run by outside entities until about a year ago. The city of Chowchilla now oversees the programs five days a week that are designed primarily for seniors.
The center at 820 W. Robertson Blvd. offers activities as well as a lunch program on weekdays. An estimated 200 to 250 people visit the center in the average week.
Piepenbrok said an important part of the upgrades would be updating the building’s Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.
He said the city has a vision for the center, which is open about 20 hours a week, to eventually serve more members of the community, but that will take some time. “We hope to make it a fuller-use building in the future,” he said.
The plans for the upgrades need further approval from HUD officials. He said the city is keeping its fingers crossed that improvements could begin by the end of the year.