Library, Concrete Center will stay where they are—for now

By Jason Miller
posted 10.4.12

After some messy misunderstandings, county officials announced Sept. 21 that the two county-run entities won’t trade places anytime in the foreseeable future.

County officials first met with concerned area seniors Aug. 2, when word got out that the county had been discussing with the Upper Skagit Library board the idea of possibly changing the way its Resource Center and Concrete Center (formerly Concrete Senior Center) buildings were used. Could the library move into the current Concrete Center, and could the seniors be accommodated in the current library facility after it was renovated to add more individual rooms?

At the Aug. 2 meeting, county officials learned what the seniors thought of that idea: very little. Concrete senior Evalyn Goeringer drew applause when she said, “Why not build on to the existing library building for the library? Let them do their own thing and quit messing with us.”

County Administrator Tim Holloran apologized repeatedly for not bringing area seniors into the conversation sooner, but also stated that the county’s talks with the library were simply and only that: talk. He added that the library board was concerned about the seniors, that they had asked early on, “What about the seniors?”

Concrete Town Councilmember Jack Mears weighed in on the issue, saying, “My fair and unbiased opinion is that the seniors are getting screwed. Let the library find their own location. This is the senior center for the east county, and I don’t believe any of you should try to change it.”

A challenging cycle
County officials recently cut the Concrete Center’s operating hours, citing lack of facility usage as the reason. Manager Sara Pritchard’s hours also were trimmed at that time. The decision was an unwelcome one for area seniors who use the facility.

At the Aug. 2 meeting, County Commissioner Sharon Dillon said the threat of cutting hours caused the Sedro-Woolley senior center’s usage hours to quadruple. “If you can prove to me that extended hours are justified, we’ll talk about expanding the hours. The object is to get people to come,” said Dillon.

“If we had been given the opportunity to respond before you cut the hours, it might have been a different story,” said audience member Erma Baude. “But you didn’t give us that opportunity; you just cut the hours.”

County officials waded into another crowded room during a follow-up meeting on Sept. 21. This time their message was more palatable for area seniors.

“Skagit County is not actively pursuing any kind of move, any kind of changing buildings, any kind of anything,” said Dillon. But she left the door open for future decisions, saying, “If something changes in the future, anything is possible.”

Dillon encouraged the meeting attendees to form a visioning committee that would discuss the challenges facing Concrete Center, such as meals and transportation issues.

Published in Concrete Herald, October 2012

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