Room was designed to meet senior needs | Letter

Jul 09, 2014

Editor, The Beacon:

I was happy to read in The Beacon that Mukilteo's seniors are speaking out about the need for a senior center and/or dedicated room at the Rosehill Community Center [“Seniors want space to call their own,” front page, July 2].

While I do agree with Jennifer Berner that many of today's seniors are looking for specific programing, and I appreciate what she has been able to accomplish in that area at Rosehill, I also believe that our seniors deserve their own dedicated space at the community center.

When I was on the Naming Committee for the new Rosehill (representing the Parks and Arts Commission), the Christiansen Room was named after Peter Christiansen, the first lighthouse keeper in Mukilteo. We felt that it reflected the idea that our seniors are the keepers of the light for the next generation.

The room was considered a place where seniors could come together and enjoy each other's company like they had done for many years in the old Rosehill building.

My understanding was that the Christiansen Room was designed with a kitchen, separate ADA accessible entrance and storage to best meet senior needs.

I remember taking my children to music and dance lessons at the old Rosehill and always stopping by to say ‘Hello’ to the seniors. They added a vibrancy to the community center and an inter-generational experience that our city needs more of.

Seniors have been paying taxes for many years and deserve our support in providing them with a place to gather in our city.

Sincerely,

Chris Cook,

Mukilteo City Councilmember

Comments (1)
Posted by: Charlie Pancerzewski | Jul 16, 2014 09:12

The stated intention by electeds, seniors, and the Friends of the Community Center (FOCC) was as your letter states. The seniors operated their thrift shop in the former Rosehill and made enough money to pay for all their activities. Jennifer Berner met with the seniors president one day and told her the thrift shop needed to close as it would no longer be permitted in the old Rosehill or the new Rosehill. Many seniors were furious and upset but their president had agreed to follow Jennifer's edict. This is just one of the many ways the expected community center was changed by her and those she reported to.

The new Rosehill does not have very many programs the former Rosehill had and were expected to continue. And the cost of operating the new Rosehill are outrageous. One only has to look at the salary and benefit levels to see how much money Mukilteo taxpayers are spending to subsidize the primary uses--wedding receptions and business uses like Boeing's lunches and training meetings. That was never contemplated by the residents who did not know the new building would be used like a convention center compared to the prior uses and the taxpayer subsidy would continue to increase like we heard about at the July 14 Council workshop. We also heard that Jennifer does not understand her own department's finances, putting out misleading and incorrect financial data. Yet after Councilmember Schmalz tried to explain this, I did not perceive anyone else on the Council or the Mayor understood it. So instead of understanding Rosehill's finances and finding out how to cut back, the Council approved Jennifer going ahead and spending more money. Revenues of Rosehill have not increased the past 3  years of its 4 year existence. Yet expenses and its operating loss keep going up, and now she wants another $25,000-$30,000 for next year and will start to analyze, she says, what kinds of services Rosehill should be providing and how much more she can increase prices for users to pay for some of the added costs.

It should be obvious Rosehill was built without following the two major surveys that were taken prior to any decision to build. The principal uses of Rosehill now were not even on the priority list. The mayor and council built a building to focus on uses that no one wanted or anticipated and with a huge increase in annual cost.

No one puts out the information that is most important about this and the City news always puts a positive spin on it. At some point residents will learn how ineffective and costly the "new" Rosehill is. The City is paying more than $900,000 a year for the bond to build it and that goes for another 16 years. The operating loss is shown as $300,000 this year but that does not include janitorial, grounds maintenance and other costs estimated to be $200,000 a year. So in total the City is spending about $1.4 million a  year and increasing every year. For our 21,000 residents that calculates to $67 a year for every man, woman and child in the City whether they use Rosehill or not. Then they pay more if they want to use the facility. The City spends $270 tax dollars a year for a family of 4 to cover the cost of just having this facility available if they want to use it. That will continue for the next 16 years.

I tried to address some of the Rosehill facts at the most recent Council Workshop but was only permitted 3 minutes and was told to wrap it up by the Mayor who apparently does not want the Council to hear anything she and her staff want to spin. That leads me to believe the Council has the same intentions and are trying to figure out how to solve the significant problems that exist without making them public.



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