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Proposed senior center still looking for a home

County leaders evaluate sites, while keeping an ear toward civic opinion.

By JANE BOKUN
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 5, 2002


TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- People here generally like the idea of a senior center.

They agree about what it should offer: General assistance to an aging population, classes, computers and television, crafts, and a day care program for those with Alzheimer's disease.

But the community still has not reached a consensus on where to build the center.

"We've been discussing the location as part of the community plan, but it has yet to be determined and will depend on public input," said Marcie Stenmark, a senior planner with Hillsborough County Planning & Growth Management.

Stenmark and county aging services director Myra Price made trips to Town 'N Country last week to answer questions and hear ideas for the 8,000-square-foot center, which will be built with Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax funding.

Right now, the nearest senior center available to Town 'N Country residents is in the Westshore area. The new center, funded for $2-million, could open in 2004.

The project coincides with a community plan that county planners have spent the past year crafting for Town 'N Country. The area is among several in the county that are undergoing community-based planning, a process that brings residents and county officials together to direct redevelopment and growth.

New Urbanism architect and pioneer Andres Duany developed a plan to locate the center along Paula and Ambassador Drives, an area that now has a public library with an adjoining playground, basketball courts and picnic areas. But some seniors have opposed that land, saying it will destroy precious green space.

"Too many people forget that in the '70s we fought to get that park by the library," said Sue Hale, a member of the Town 'N Country Civic Park Homeowners Association.

Mary Pivornik, one of the association's voting board members, said she'd like to see the senior center on Sheldon Road, where it also would be more accessible to seniors in Pasco County.

Stenmark said many residents seem to support the idea of placing the senior center near the library. But "we're still listening to determine public support and the Board Of County Commissioners will make a decision according to community desires."

Another meeting in Town 'N Country will be called in June. Those wishing to express opinions also can log onto www.tncplan.org, or call Marcie Stenmark at (813) 276-8461.

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