Senior center update: Fundraising firing up, mid-2017 groundbreaking is target

Architect's rendering of the proposed new Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center. Courtesy photo

Money permitting, the Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging hopes to break ground on the long-discussed new senior center in the middle of 2017, officials of the organization told The Signal.

“Money permitting” being the operative phrase – with fundraising still a top priority heading into the new year.

Kevin MacDonald, executive director of the senior center, said the estimated cost of the project is $11.4 million.

With the City of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County having already agreed to kick in $3 million each, that leaves $5.4 million for the SVC Committee on Aging to raise.

According to Therese Edwards, the committee’s recently named marketing liaison, the initial fundraising push has focused on larger donations. Phase 2 – soliciting smaller donations during a public fundraising drive – is expected to fire up after the new year, she said.

Edwards also said the new center’s “campaign cabinet” is expected to meet in January, but that until then the committee was not ready to release specifics on the money raised so far.

But Peggy Rasmussen, president of the SCV Committee on Aging’s Board of Directors, put a positive spin on what’s been achieved to date.

“We’re very excited about the progress we’ve made towards groundbreaking, which is expected to begin mid-year, 2017,’’ Rasmussen said in a statement to The Signal.

MacDonald, meanwhile, said “it is our hope’’ to complete the project – to be built on a site where Golden Valley Road meets Newhall Ranch Road in Saugus – “in 2018.’’

That might be optimistic – previous estimates targeted a January 2019 finish date.

The new facility would be more than 30,000 square feet — about three times the size of the current facility, which is a converted house on Market Street in Newhall near Hart Park.

A new YMCA is also ticketed for that site, but those plans are not nearly as far along.

The land on which the new senior center and Y would be built was donated by the developer Synergy and builder/developer Brookfield Residential.

Rasmussen said that, with the calendar turning to 2017, the SCV Committee on Aging was in full fundraising mode.

“Currently, we’re in the process of securing donations and commitments from community leaders with big hearts and, more importantly, vision,’’ Rasmussen said. “These are individuals and organizations who understand both the challenges and opportunities the next three decades will bring.

“I’m particularly excited to begin our Public Fundraising Launch in late winter; this will be our opportunity to communicate the value of this project not only to Santa Clarita’s seniors, but to their adult children, their grandchildren and their neighbors.’’

More details on the public fundraising aspect of the money drive will be available in the new year, said Edwards.

Plans for the new senior facility first percolated in 2013, when the SCV Committee on Aging conducted a comprehensive needs assessment and determined the current facility was no longer adequate.

“We’ve outgrown our current center in Newhall,” MacDonald says on a video about the new center on the organization’s website.

In 2014, both the City of Santa Clarita and L.A. County pledged $3 million each toward the center. But an agreement needed to be negotiated between the city and the Committee on Aging before the money could be earmarked, and that finally occurred this past July.

The city deal, according to Frank Oviedo, Santa Clarita’s assistant city manager, stipulates that the Committee on Aging can only use the money toward the center.

Neither the funds from the city nor the county “expire,” according to Oviedo and Rosalind Wayman, field deputy in the Santa Clarita Valley for Supervisor Kathryn Barger – so that $6 million is money in the bank for senior center project, however its fundraising efforts shake out.

The new facility would feature all manner of improved amenities, including a fitness center, a 350-seat banquet hall, an outside entertainment center, even a putting green.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled by the possibilities, and we’re deeply grateful to those who’ve already contributed to bring this project to fruition,” said Rasmussen.

Said MacDonald: “We continue to work on the details in developing a center that the community will be proud of.’’

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