On Tuesday, March 3, Gulfport City Council members listened to a presentation by two representatives from a consulting firm specializing in fundraising detail a proposed plan to raise $10.3 million for construction improvements at the city’s Senior Center, 5501 27th Ave. S.
In 2015, the city did a survey of Gulfport residents and Senior Center participants. One of the results documented that people “saw the need and supported an upgraded and improved center,” said Senior Center Supervisor Rachel Cataldo.
This led to Cataldo touring similar facilities throughout the state and researching design concept trends.
An engineering firm was asked to do a design that fit within the existing geographic footprint and that addressed the space needs for what experts are calling the “Silver Tsunami, which is the Baby Boomers turning 50 and becoming seniors,” she said. “We also wanted to bring back all of our classes that are now being outsourced to different facilities.”
The construction plan has an estimated price tag of $10.3 million, she said.
To fund this amount, the city asked Hartsook to look into whether or not a fundraising campaign would be feasible.
The firm conducted an assessment on June 14 and August 16, 2019 with 14 personal interviews occurring in a 10-day period from January to February 2020.
According to the report, “respondents thought a $10.3 million goal was a reasonable number for a new center.” And, “a significant number of respondents expressed a willingness to participate in the campaign.”
The fundraising firm is recommending a three-year campaign timeline that would also include grant-writing support, said Hartsook Senior Vice President Jason B. Wood.
Mayor Sam Henderson asked council and staff for their initial thoughts on the proposal.
“It’s not just impacting people’s lives who use the Senior Center, it’s also impacting the caregivers,” said Councilmember Dan Liedtke. “Let’s see a contract.”
Councilmember Christine Brown said, “The center is the heart of our community. We value what goes on in there and what it gives back to our citizens. It’s a great step forward.”
City Manager Jim O’Reilly said, “We will vet the proposal for financial impacts and if we have any changes we’d like to suggest, then we’ll include them at your next meeting for your consideration.”
Next Meeting is April 7
Normally, the council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month beginning at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 2401 53rd Street S.
There will be no meeting on Tuesday, March 17 due to the presidential preference primary and non-partisan municipal election from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. as City Hall is one of the polling locations. For more information, visit votepinellas.com/Election-Information/Elections/Current-Upcoming-Elections1/2020-March-Municipal-Elections or contact Gulfport’s Municipal Clerk Lesley DeMuth at City Hall or phone: 727-893-1012.
The next regular meeting will be on Tuesday, April 7.