Mike Dover says no seniors should be priced out of their local senior health and wellness center.
Dover leads a city advisory panel on the senior centers to be built with MAPS 3 tax dollars. The panel learned Wednesday that the city aims to open the first two centers in 2016.
Too-high fees and uneven fee structures could discourage attendance or prompt seniors to leave their own neighborhoods to attend a less-expensive center, Dover said.
“These are supposed to be health centers that are community-based,” Dover said. Membership fees — which are to be set on a sliding scale based on income — “have to be very similar” across the city, he said.
Draft plans for the first health and wellness center — proposed for northwest Oklahoma City — would grant the city's operating partner responsibility for setting the fees.
Dover's panel got a briefing on that and other provisions on Wednesday.
Healthy Living and Fitness Inc., a new nonprofit associated with Putnam City Baptist Church, has offered to partner with the city on a senior center near NW 115 Street and Rockwell Ave.
The draft agreement with the city provides for a five-year deal to operate the center, with options to renew for three additional five-year terms.
The city would buy the land and build the center. The Oklahoma City Public Property Authority would lease the land and buildings to Healthy Living.
Healthy Living would be required to open the center at least 65 hours per week and offer memberships regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
The city would retain naming rights to the center, with proceeds to be used for associated costs. Healthy Living could sell naming rights to the gym, pool and other indoor facilities.
Healthy Living and the city would share responsibility for maintenance.
One panel member, Larry Weatherford, said he was concerned about the requirement that the center be open 65 hours per week. After working out the math, Weatherford said, he found that could limit evening and weekend hours.
The proposal includes a requirement that the center be open four consecutive hours on one weekend day, but otherwise does not address evening and weekend hours.
A central feature of the centers will be swimming and warm water therapy pools.
Social activities, medical services and fitness classes are to be offered, with the mix based on needs and desires of seniors who use them.
The idea was popular with voters, who were told in advance of the 2009 MAPS 3 vote that they could expect four or five senior centers at a total cost of about $50 million.
Plans are for the centers to be built in all quadrants of the city.
Timelines drawn up by the city show the Healthy Living center opening in July 2016, with a center in the Capitol Hill area of south Oklahoma City to open in September 2016.
The city is working on a partnership with NorthCare, a well-established nonprofit that offers a broad array of health services, for the Capitol Hill center.