The subcommittee has struggled so far to strike the right balance with being specific enough in their proposals to give potential operating partners a clear mission and providing those partners with enough flexibility to fit their capabilities and plans.
Lifespan's role is to help the subcommittee strike the balance.
The Gallows have been involved in planning and designing senior centers on both U.S. coasts and states in between, and specialize in tailoring a property's physical characteristics for use by seniors as they continue to age.
“Our psychology changes, our physical ability changes, and our senses change,” Doug Gallow said. “That's really how we start to look at design. Every design decision we make ... we ask the question, ‘How does this design decision affect the users?'”
The Gallows highlighted issues related to property for the first center as an example of a section of the request for proposals where the subcommittee could do more to provide specific guidance, but remain flexible.
The city hasn't specified where the first center should be, and the Gallows said that's good policy. But the subcommittee should make the list of site evaluation criteria clear to any potential bidders.
For example, some centers could have programming that requires many more parking spaces than others. So the subcommittee should make it clear that a site plan has to accommodate enough parking for the programming, but refrain from requiring a specific amount that would prove arbitrary, the Gallows said.
The Gallows, city staff and subcommittee members will continue to refine the request for proposals in the coming weeks.
It could be approved as early as the subcommittee's next meeting in December, and the request will be forwarded to the full Citizen Advisory Board and city council for approval before it is posted for bids.