A new Senior Center is a necessity. We have run out of space at our run-down, 50-year-old building. The cramped quarters and building deterioration demand immediate attention to the need for a replacement.

Despite the building’s horrendous condition, hundreds of individuals visit and use it every day. The county offers nearly 200 different programs throughout the year, most of which are oversubscribed. It is an action center for education and community programs, fitness and exercise activities, health screenings, wellness sessions, elder law tax and financial counseling, and multiple social and recreational events.

For the past 18 years, there have been discussions, studies and attempts to replace the structure.

Last year, through a joint resolution, our city and county commissions agreed to build a new Senior Center on the present site on West Bay. The city is in the process of selecting an architectural firm and we are advised that will happen very soon. Design and cost options for the new building will be developed by the architect with input from a variety of source including our seniors.

Traverse City, which owns the building, and Grand Traverse County, which operates the Senior Center Network, are due congratulations for their joint commitment to this effort. They recognize, as we do, it is time to finish the job.

Senior Center Friends, a Michigan Charitable Non-Profit Corporation, was established as an organization of volunteers to support the effort to replace the old building. This is our first report. When a design is available, we will ask for your assistance. We expect to be involved in the planning for financing of the building and will keep everyone advised of the process.

We recognize that our community’s combination of relative wealth and dramatic beauty requires a building that reflects the quality of life in our region. It should be adapted to seniors’ needs and built to serve generations to come. Projections for the next 20 years indicate growth of the county’s senior population at a higher rate than nearly any other region in the U.S. We are one of the premier retirement meccas in the nation.

It is clear that our community will be the major beneficiary of success. A state-of-the-art and fully functioning building will serve the needs of a majority of our population and will stand out as a welcoming activity center for seniors of all ages.

Robert A. Steadman is the Senior Center Friends president and lives in Traverse City.