Q: Can they agree on anything?
A: Tuesday's discussion leader, former KOCO-TV anchor Jennifer Eve, opened the discussion by telling the mayor and eight council members, “We've got to move forward and find some areas of commonality.”
Everyone agreed swimming pools and warm therapy pools for aching joints are a must to make the senior centers a success.
“The word aquatics was used as often as the word seniors when we were promoting this,” said Ward 4 Councilman Pete White.
Council members, without voting, also agreed:
• Centers will serve seniors ages 50 and older across the social and economic spectrum, rejecting the idea of centers with programs for younger adults and youth.
• Operating partners must make them work, without city subsidies.
• Programs will be flexible to meet needs and desires of the seniors who use them.
• The city will negotiate with all three organizations that have pending proposals. Negotiations will include the possibility NorthCare could locate on the south side.
White organized the workshop and emphasized the need, four years after the MAPS 3 vote, to get the senior centers going.
“It's time to start the first one. We don't want a tie,” he said, alluding to past votes of the advisory panels that now will take a fresh look at the proposals. “We want a recommendation.”
The first center could be in south Oklahoma City if negotiations lead to a deal with NorthCare.
Variations in proposals — NorthCare's relative emphasis on health care, Healthy Living's emphasis on fitness and social activities — are “just different ways to skin the same cat,” White said.
An ability to manage the financial end of the equation could be a deciding factor, he said.
“Let's talk from a business standpoint who is able to do it,” White said.
“The fact that it was such a civil conversation that lasted two-and-a-half hours is a big accomplishment to me,” he said.
“That's moving it back toward getting an answer rather than being snarky with one another, and I think that's where we need to be.”