Eric Swanson/The Ada News(From left) William Howell and Katheryn Potts of the architectural firm Rees Associates discuss a preliminary plan for Ada’s new senior center during the April 19 Ada City Council meeting. The council voted Monday to approve a contract with the firm, which will provide architectural services for the senior center. 

Ada residents got a preview Monday of what the city’s new senior center might look like.

The Ada City Council hosted a public hearing to discuss preliminary designs for the facility during the council’s regular meeting at City Hall. William Howell and Katheryn Potts with the Oklahoma City-based architectural firm Rees Associates, which is doing predesign work for the project, led the discussion.

The council did not take action on the issue.

In doing its research, Rees Associates found that some residents thought the new senior center should include a kitchen that could house a Meals on Wheels program, Potts said. She said people also wanted a building that included space for a variety of activities, including basketball and dancing.

“We need to make sure that the rooms in the senior citizen (center) are flexible for all these multifunctional activities that they plan on having,” she said. “And it will also help to grow the use of the senior citizen (center).”

Potts said she and Howell toured community centers in Edmond and Oklahoma City as part of their research. She said the two looked at ways to incorporate gathering areas — such as libraries, lounges and TV rooms — into the design for Ada’s senior center.

“It was great to visit this facility in Edmond because they had been open, I think, for about a year,” she said. “They had a lot of good ideas of what worked, what didn’t work for them, lessons learned.”

Meeting space

After touring the facilities in Edmond and Oklahoma City, Potts and Howell asked city staffers for their thoughts on Ada’s new senior center. Potts said staffers wanted a building with a warm atmosphere that used plenty of wood, natural sunlight and Ada stone.

Staffers also thought the building should include meeting space for the city’s parks and recreation department, Potts said.

The site plan for the facility proposes a 13,000-square-foot building that includes space for an internet cafe, a library, a home health office and other amenities. The existing parking lot will be incorporated into the plan, which will include space for handicapped-accessible parking.

If Rees Associates starts working on a schematic design by May 1, the city could seek contractors’ bids for the project by early November, Potts said. She said construction could begin in mid-December and take about nine to 10 months, depending on the contractor’s schedules.

“I will leave that to whatever contractor gets the job,” she said.

Rees Associates has estimated that construction would cost between $3.1 million and $3.3 million, which would include the cost of demolishing the Irving Community Center at 704 N. Oak Ave., Potts said. The new senior center would be located at the same site.

The cost estimates do not represent the official project budget, said Assistant City Manager Angie Dean. She said the preliminary plan gives city officials a starting point for moving into the next phase of the project.

“We are still working on gathering all that information, working with the architects,” she said. “I just want to make sure everyone knows this is just a preliminary report, a needs assessment, so that we have somewhere we’ve got to begin. Now we can begin that design phase and start working on getting some more concrete numbers.”

The city will finance the new senior center with part of the proceeds from the “Penny for Our City” sales tax, which funds a series of capital improvement projects.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.