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Ella Vogel (left) and Leita Bibler.
Senior Center's future in current location at risk posted on 02/01/2021

The Hoodland Senior Center faces an uncertain future as Clackamas County considers ending ownership of the building the center has occupied since 2012.

 

Senior Center director Ella Vogel noted Representatives of Clackamas County Social Services told the local not-for-profit in July 2020 to prepare for the sale of their current venue.

“There’s a good possibility we’d have to shut down,” Vogel said about the possible loss of the venue.

County representatives have been unable to provide a decision on the sale or a timeline for the not-for-profit to find a new community space since the July announcement, leaving the center concerned about its ability to continue to provide the community services it currently offers.

The building that the Hoodland Senior Center occupies was originally built by the U.S. Forest Service as an information center. Clackamas County Tourism and Cultural Affairs purchased the building following the closure of the information center and entered into an agreement to rent the property to the senior center for $1 a month in 2012.

The center’s lease with the county states, “because the property was purchased with transient room tax revenue, this arrangement must have a “tourism” benefit to justify the occupation by a lessee for below market value rent. This arrangement will benefit the traveling public by making public restroom facilities available.”

Vogel noted that the senior center’s lease includes an agreement to purchase all supplies for the public restrooms and to keep them clean. The lease details that all maintenance and repairs of the building are the responsibility of the county.

The county tourism department implemented a 75 percent budget cut as a result of pandemic related tourism revenue shortages in May of 2020. At that time the oversight of the senior center building was transferred to the social services department. The county has made a decision to evaluate continued ownership of the building due to revenue shortages.

“The income we have to keep facilities is gone,” said Kimberly Dinwiddie, Clackamas County public information officer.

The county has not yet begun an evaluation of the building. The evaluation will factor in maintenance and repair costs including a new roof.

Dinwiddie stated that “all options are on the table” and that the county will begin “gathering facts to form opinions” to present their findings to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) in the summer. A decision on the building is expected to be made by the BCC in the fall.

“These conversations are very early,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re a long way from making a decision.”

The Senior Center offers programs and provides opportunities that promote independent living for senior adults aging in place in the county’s rural communities.

The Senior Center uses its current location to provide a Meals on Wheels program for seniors 60 years of age or older in Alder Creek, Sandy, Brightwood, Rhododendron and Welches. The organization provides medical rides, food boxes, energy assistance and information and assistance connecting with Clackamas County resources. The center serves as a meeting space for community organizations such as local water districts, the Hoodland Women’s Club, the Trillium Garden Club, classes, study groups, tai chi and the Welches mobile library.

“We realize the Senior Center plays a pivotal role in our communities, not only with the services it provides, but as a gathering place. We intend to keep the community informed on the decision-making process,” Dinwiddie said.

The Hoodland Senior Center is located at 65000 E. Hwy. 26 in the Mount Hood Village RV Resort and can be reached by phone at (503) 622-3331.

By Ben Simpson/MT

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