GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Essentially every town in Garfield County has a central place for senior citizens to meet, play cards, have a meal, listen to a speaker, or just shoot the breeze over a game of pool, except for the county’s most populous town.
“I think it’s about time we had something for seniors here in Glenwood Springs,” said Mildred Alsdorf, a longtime Glenwood Springs resident, retired Garfield County clerk and recorder and active senior.
Alsdorf, who serves on the county’s senior advisory board is a local delegate on the Northwest Colorado Council on Aging, is among those who would like to see the former Glenwood Springs library building at the corner of Ninth and Blake turned into a senior center.
Seniors are always looking for space around town to have their events, she said, and there’s a lot of other groups out there competing for the same limited space.
“With the old library, you have the Manors [senior housing] just down the street, so it’s a close walk or the Senior Traveler van could pick them up and bring them,” Alsdorf said.
It’s also handicapped accessible and equipped with an elevator so that senior meals could be catered and brought to the central downtown location, she said.
“Seniors just don’t have a lot of options here, and I think a lot of people would like to have a place like that for their own,” she said.
The suggestion came up at a joint work session between Glenwood Springs City Council members and the Garfield County commissioners on Thursday.
“Glenwood Springs is the only municipality in the county that doesn’t have a senior center, and I’d like to see us work on some sort of lease [of the library building] to make that happen,” Commissioner John Martin said.
Glenwood Springs Mayor Leo McKinney agreed it would be a good conversation to have at the time the building ownership officially transfers to the city.
“I think you would have this council’s support on that,” he said.
The city owns the property beneath the building, but the structure itself is still owned by the Garfield County Public Library District.
The building, which has about 8,500 square feet of space including the basement, is to be transferred to the city as part of the agreement for the new library that is part of the new Cooper Commons building at Eighth and Cooper.
The formal property transfer is still in process, pending a walk-through by city and library district officials, City Manager Jeff Hecksel said.
“This is something that’s desperately needed,” agreed City Councilman Ted Edmonds. “I think [a senior center] would be a very valuable use of that property.”
Councilman Matt Steckler also agreed a senior center would be a good idea, but reminded his fellow council members that they had promised there would be a formal process to determine the best use for the facility.
“We have no idea who else might be out there with some ideas,” he said.
Councilman Dave Sturges also supported use of the former library building as a senior center, but said a bigger issue in Glenwood Springs is a lack of senior housing.
“The demographics across the state, and here in Garfield County, show that people are living longer and people want to remain independent as long as they can,” Sturges said. “Housing is a very critical issue, both for the county and the city, and we need to start doing some planning for that.”
A senior housing complex with space for a senior center could also serve as a more long-term solution beyond leasing the library building for that purpose, he also suggested.
“That’s a model we should be looking at,” Sturges said.