Mayor Chris Beutler and Aging Partners Director June Pederson announced today that the City will not consolidate the Lake Street, Maxey and Belmont senior centers into the Downtown and Northeast facilities. The merger had been proposed as a way to enhance services and create more efficient programs.
Mayor Beutler said the decision was made after those who use the three centers shared their concerns about downtown traffic and parking and the loss of independence that comes from using group transportation. He said other expressed concern that those with hearing loss, dementia and other conditions may have difficulty in large group setting.
"Most of all, they have emphasized that any decisions that impact their future should be the result of a partnership between them and Aging Partners in which their needs and wants help shape the outcome," Mayor Beutler said. "We have listened. We agree that change should come about as a result of a shared commitment and vision of the future."
At a news conference at the Lake Street center, the Mayor thanked those who spoke up, and challenged them to work with the Pederson and Aging Partners on the future of the City's senior centers. "We must explore every avenue that offers potential savings, improves service or brings more seniors to the center," he said.
Pederson said hearing the preferences of those using the centers has been "a valuable and productive experience," and she wants to hear from seniors across the community. She and her staff are developing a method to survey current and future seniors.
"We need to know the relative value to seniors of our health care services, life planning programs, social activities and meals," Pederson said. "We need to hear about the impact of location on attendance. We need to work with the requirements of the state and federal government for these programs. And we need to engage the next generation of seniors so we can prepare now for their needs."
Pederson said the discussion also has helped strengthen her agency's relationship with the organizations housing the three programs, and that could lead to greater flexibility in providing services. The centers are housed at St. James United Methodist Church (Lake Street), the Malone Community Center (Maxey) and the Belmont Recreation Center (Belmont).
Aging Partners provides services that help keep people in their homes as they age. The agency serves eight counties including Lancaster County. For more information on Aging Partners visit aging.lincoln.ne.gov.