Guest opinion: The time is now to act on housing for seniors |

Guest opinion: The time is now to act on housing for seniors

Cheryl Soshnik
Park City Senior Center board member

Senior housing is not a new topic in Park City. I have heard the questions for at least 20 years: What is available for our valuable residents, the past movers and shakers of this city who no longer wish to, or no longer are able to, age in place in their larger family homes but want to remain in Park City? Where is that smaller single-level home, maybe one where other seniors are nearby for socialization, help and support? Or what if we need a little help … maybe not now, but down the road? Is there a continuum of care facility in town, so that we can still be near our family and friends as we decline in our older years? The answer is none in Park City proper, and one small assisted-living facility on Highland Drive. The need for more senior housing of many levels greatly outweighs the current availability.

Yes, there is a dire need for workforce housing, and that need has taken center stage in talks and plans for future development. But we can’t promote one population at the expense of another marginalized group. Senior housing must take equal priority. The voices and petitions of the seniors, and those who will eventually become seniors who want to remain in the community, have too long been ignored.

The Senior Center has had its home on Woodside Avenue since 1976. The city has plans to build housing on the surrounding property, called Woodside Phase II. One plan to consider is incorporating a Senior Center and a senior living facility of some sort into the project. As the city recently said, “Land is our most valuable asset.” This piece of property is perfectly situated for a senior housing project included with the planned affordable and market-level housing. I was dismayed to read that at that same City Council meeting that the city is considering selling off some of this valuable parcel to private developers before considering every way it could be used to further our own housing needs.

But that’s just one idea. What other locations and senior housing types could be located in the city limits or within western Summit County? Is there a possibility of a public-private partnership for a continuum of care facility? What grants are available for this type of housing? What levels of senior housing are most important to you, independent, assisted, or continuum of care? How large should the units be? Should they be rentals or owned units? Is it best for you to build affordable, restricted or market-rate units? Let’s hear from all of our citizens and come up with specific ideas for the city and county.

Park City Senior Citizens, in cooperation with Park City Municipal Corporation, has set up an input meeting scheduled for Friday, Dec. 3 in the Community Room of the Park City Library, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. We would like to see a variety of participants in attendance: developers, governments and residents of all ages. The city is listening, and hopefully the county will join in the conversation as well. Now is the time to have our voices heard.

As Dar Williams explained in her talk at a Park City Institute presentation and the accompanying book titled “What I Found in A Thousand Towns,” a healthy community depends on a vibrant, active senior presence. Let’s work together to keep local housing for our valuable aging senior citizens.

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