Guest editorial: Park City seniors need a suitable home
The Park City Senior Center on lower Woodside Avenue has been a meeting place since it opened in 1978 and remains active today.
After meeting for years in the Memorial Building on Main Street, by the mid-1970s the Park City Seniors were looking for their own home. By 1976, the Seniors had convinced Union Pacific Railroad to donate the “mothballed” 2,400-square-foot Keetley Train Depot to the cause. The seniors were told, “If you can move it, you can have it.” The Seniors set about making $1,500 through bingo games, yard sales and raffles. A Mountainlands Federal Grant contributed $4,000.
In May 1976, the Seniors petitioned the Park City Council for permission to relocate the building to a city-owned piece of property on Woodside Avenue, behind the fire station. The Seniors were represented by Otto Carpenter and Robert Burns Sr., the same men who 30 years earlier had built the Snow Park Ski Area on land now occupied by lower Deer Valley. In July of 1976, the City Council unanimously approved a 99-year lease at $1 a year with the Seniors. Otto Carpenter told the Council, “We know the ground is worth a lot of money, but we feel our Senior Citizens are every bit as important as the resort. It’s a road you’ll all have to walk some day.”
In October of 1976 the depot was loaded onto wheels and began a two-day, 15-mile journey to 1361 Woodside Ave. For the next two years Otto Carpenter and his crew transformed the depot into the Senior Center. Finally, on Jan. 14, 1978, the building was dedicated.
From that day in 1978 until the present, the old depot has been the home of the Park City Seniors. Over that period of time it has been generously upgraded and maintained by the Park City Municipal Corporation.
In 2015 the city approached the Seniors about moving to a new home to be built in City Park, a move that would enable the construction of workforce housing on the Woodside lot. By March, 2018 the city and the Park City Senior Citizens had agreed on a plan for this facility which would also include space for a youth recreation program.
However, later in 2018 this plan changed and the Seniors were told they would have to move to a temporary home, possibly for five or six years until the workforce housing was completed and a new Senior Center was constructed. The Seniors expressed their desire to remain in their present location and asked about the lease. They were told it didn’t apply. Over a period of time they were given a choice of four locations for this temporary home beginning with:
• the top floor of the present library
• Miners Hospital in City Park
• a space in the old Anderson Lumber (Blind Dog)
• a room in the Christian Center of Park City
The Christian Center was considered the least objectionable of the four choices, even though it has virtually no parking and an empty room that would have to be set up and taken down each day.
In October of 2019 several new members of the Senior Citizens became aware of this situation, felt it was unfair to the Seniors and are attempting to remedy it. In late January of this year, the general membership voted unanimously to stay in their existing building. Subsequently, the Senior Citizens Board of Directors created the Save Our Senior Center (SOSC) committee.
We obtained a copy of the 99-year lease and approached the City Council liaisons who told us the lease was no longer valid. On the advice of legal counsel, we informed the city that we felt the lease was valid and that we wanted to remain in our present location until an acceptable permanent facility was provided — a facility which would meet the standards of our world-class community. Mayor Andy Beerman and Councilman Steve Joyce met with the committee on Jan. 10 and heard our position. We look forward to their reply.
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Jim Arnold of Jeremy Ranch writes that the community cannot continue to operate without a long-range plan for development.