If the city of Gulfport wants to work with Hartsook Companies for a new, state-of-the-art senior center, a $45,000 city-funded study will have to take place.
The study, which consists of mailed out surveys over the course of a month, will determine if Gulfport can raise $10 million through fundraising and donations for the project.
As presented to council at the Tuesday, May 7 regular meeting, Hartsook is a global fundraising consulting firm based in Kansas City, and has reportedly raised over $231 billion through philanthropy for nonprofits since 1987.
However, there is no guarantee that the answer will be a yes.
“Our current senior center is really bursting at the seams,” said Gulfport Senior Center Supervisor Rachel Cataldo. “We’ve had to move a lot of our exercise classes to the Casino ballroom, Scout Hall and the recreation center.”
Gulfport’s Senior Center, located at 5501 27th Ave. S., was used by about 600 people a day in 2018. According to Cataldo, 80 people can show up for a Tai Chi class alone.
And the center is frequented not just by Gulfport seniors but also individuals aged 50 and older throughout Pinellas County.
Since it’s come to the attention of Gulfport city officials and senior center employees that the use of the building may have surpassed its size, the city will vote on whether or not to go ahead with study at the next Tuesday, May 21 council meeting.
“I do think it is a good idea, and city staff did recommend the use of Hartsook,” said Dave Mather, the director of library and information technology for Gulfport.
The 16-week study, which will cost the city a total of $45,000, is actually only $38,000 to conduct.
According to Hartsook Companies, it will cost an additional $500 for the survey copies, another $1,500 for mailing expenses and $5,000 in consultant fees.
If the study gets a green light, and is favorable, it will be an estimated three to five years before the $10 million is raised.
“The $10 million would be out of the way for the city to spend,” Mather said. “The feasibility study is really there to see if the funding is there, even outside the greater area.”
“I can say this, without the study the new center will not be possible,” Cataldo said.
If the project is greenlit, plans for the new senior center would have the same footprint as the current building and would be two-story, with elevators throughout, Mather confirmed.