Tacoma may close one of two senior centers

Tacoma Councilman Marty Campbell called the 2011-2012 biennium budget “a lot of moving targets” at a meeting held at the Portland Avenue Park and Community Center on Jan. 4.  One of those moving targets involves the Lighthouse and Beacon Senior Centers.  The City of Tacoma needs to make up for a $31 million shortfall on top of the $40 million dollars worth of cuts the city made last year. At  $1.7 million per biennium, the two senior centers budgets make up a tiny portion of the city’s budget, however, the city hopes to reduce that expenditure to something in the neighborhood of $700,000 by merging the two senior centers.  Campbell said that he would like an extension of at least three months (until March) to entertain some options although in his discussions so far he felt the director was leaning on keeping the Beacon open and closing the Lighthouse.

The footprint of the Lighthouse Senior Center is around 7,000 square feet while the Beacon Senior Center is 13,000.  This would seem to indicate a logical choice however; the parking at the Beacon leaves a lot to be desired as it is in an area of downtown Tacoma with limited parking and extremely steep hills.  One recommendation Campbell had entertained prior to the meeting was to have seniors park at the parking garage across from Freight House Square and take a shuttle bus from there but Campbell said it wasn’t a good option.  Community members were quick to ask Campbell if it was even possible to fit all the members into just one facility should the parking consideration be resolved.

The Pt. Defiance/Ruston Senior Center operates through a shared program with Franke Tobey Jones, a retirement community near Pt. Defiance Park and one community member asked if there were any talks with organizations willing to share costs with the city.  Campbell admitted that the city was in talks with a few organizations that might be willing to “adopt” a senior center and carry half the costs for one or both of the centers.

“These are the only programs we do for seniors in the city and that’s such a fraction of the budget,” said one community member who advocated that the city find other options aside from closing one or the other senior center.  Another added, “They have so much to offer it’s amazing.  It’s a life saver.”

Campbell offered that the seniors were very effective at calling him but suggested that calls also be made to the rest of the council and the mayor.  “Be your own best voice,” he said.

Name Position E-mail Address
Marilyn Strickland Mayor Marilyn.Strickland@cityoftacoma.org
Anders Ibsen Position 1 Anders.Ibsen@cityoftacoma.org
Jake Fey Position 2 Jake.Fey@cityoftacoma.org
Lauren Walker Position 3 Deputy Mayor Lauren.Walker@cityoftacoma.org
Marty Campbell Position 4 Marty.Campbell@cityoftacoma.org
Joe Lonergan Position 5 Joe.Lonergan@cityoftacoma.org
Victoria Woodards At-Large Position 6 Victoria.Woodards@cityoftacoma.org
David Boe At-Large Position 7 David.Boe@cityoftacoma.org
Ryan Mello At-Large/ Position 8 Ryan.Mello@cityoftacoma.org

To contact the mayor or council members via snail mail, write to:

747 Market Street, Suite 1200
Tacoma, WA 98402-3766
To contact the mayor or council members via phone:  (253) 591-5100