SHELBYVILLE – The Shelby County Senior Center could become the Shelbyville Community Center in 2015 if the city council’s park commissioner has his way.
Commissioner Gib Smart suggested Monday night that the city change the name of the building in an effort to make it more appealing to a wider group of people.
“My opinion is the senior center is underused,” Smart said. “A lot more can be done out there. Right now, they use it for the Peace Meal, three or four times a month they hold fundraising dinners for the public and a few times they have meetings on Medicare and other things that affect seniors. That’s pretty much the only use of the building right now.”
Smart said the Shelby County Council on Aging didn’t comply with bylaws established when the center was built in 2001, and the organization kept other groups from using or renting the building.
“There has always been a roadblock,” he said.
Former city council member Andy Cichalewski said the building was specifically designated a Shelby County Senior Center when it was built with state funding.
“There wasn’t city money involved,” he said. “The city agreed to put the building in the park and use it to provide two public restrooms, but the $300,000 to build it came from a grant from the Illinois Council on Aging.”
Council member Brent Fogleman asked what the benefit would be for the city to take over operations of the building.
“Do you envision the parks department operating and maintaining the building?” he asked.
“I do,” Smart said. “We could open it up for more and generate more income. I don’t see why we can’t change the name and make it more accessible to the general public. This is a business decision. The city is a business, and it needs to be run in a businesslike manner.”
Cichalewski said he felt Smart misunderstood the purpose of the building.
“The senior center is available for rent to groups and organizations, and we invite the public to many many events,” he said. “But the original funding and the purpose of building it was to provide a place for our senior citizens to meet and receive services. We’ve worked hard to keep it going.
“Commissioner Smart has only attended one senior center board meeting, and I don’t think he understands its value to Shelbyville.”