Lakeville's senior citizens are running out of room to rumba.
Membership at the city's Senior Center has swelled to 1,200, a far cry from the 50 or so who occasionally would stop in for a game of cards when it opened 25 years ago. The 50-plus set has come to appreciate the teachings and offerings from the likes of yoga instructors, local artists and musicians. And it is not unaware of the juggling act done by coordinator Linda Walter, who has her hands full keeping table tennis from becoming a contact sport.
Bursting with pride over what the senior program has become, city officials also know their downtown building is bursting at the seams. The process of fixing it has begun.
City Administrator Steve Mielke said his staff will present the City Council in February with a cursory look at the possibility of moving the Senior Center to the former police station. The council will decide whether it wants the staff to explore more deeply the costs of such a move.
Mielke and Parks and Recreation Director Steve Michaud agree the current building is not a long-term answer. "We still have 20 years of growth in the community,'' Michaud said. "The Baby Boomers are not going to leave.''
A move to the old police station, left empty when a new one was built in 2008, would more than triple the space Walter would have to work with.
The existing Senior Center has 5,000 square feet, with one large room and a series of smaller rooms and offices.
"Linda is prolific in creating programs,'' Michaud said. "If we had 100 people show up for every program, we'd be in trouble.''
Ideally, Walter said, a new facility would include a computer lab and a conference room, two things currently lacking. Her own office has been used for programs because there has been no place else to go.
The Senior Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. Walter said there usually are people waiting in the parking lot in the morning when she arrives to open the doors.
It would be unfortunate if the city reached the point where it had to reduce programs because it simply couldn't handle the demand, Michaud said.
Should the city pursue a move to the former police station, it likely would sell the current building and use the money to pay for renovations. Mielke said he does not know if the sale would bring in enough money to cover the renovation costs.
At the same time, Mielke, said, knowing the current building is not a long-term answer, the city has to consider the cost of new construction. "We have an opportunity with [the former police station],'' Mielke said. "Owning the land, some big costs already are paid for.''
Members pay as little as $9 a year to join the Senior Center and no more than $15. Many of the programs are free. Michaud said he could envision eventually establishing a monthly fee that would help cover operating costs.
Dean Spiros • 952-882-9203