CEDAR CITY — Construction on the Iron County Senior Center expansion is already well underway, with the project expected to be completed within the next couple months.
Iron County Commissioner Paul Cozzens told Cedar City News that the $800,000 project was paid for using excess federal CARES Act grant funds that the county had left over after all of its other 2020 allocations had been made.
“We received a substantial amount of money in the county for the CARES Act, and obviously we used a lot of those funds to help businesses that have been hurt financially and that requested assistance,” Cozzens said. “But we had excess funds to spend, so we (Iron County) thought, ‘What better way to spend that money than adding onto our senior center?’ That would help our seniors socially distance more and they can spread out and not be so cramped into one tight space.”
Cozzens said the expansion will add approximately 5,000 square feet to effectively double the usable space of the center, which he said has been “bulging at the seams.”
Curtis Crawford, who manages the senior center as Iron County’s Council on aging director, agreed.
“For the past several years, we have developed to the point that we were using mornings and afternoons back-to-back with exercise classes or other recreation or meeting rooms or education classes. The building was used in its full capacity,” Crawford said, adding that the center had also been used for evening classes, including square dancing and ham radio prior to the pandemic.
Since then, the facility has been closed to the public, although it still provides lunch three times a week via its Meals on Wheels and curbside lunch program.
Crawford said he’s looking forward to whenever the COVID-19 restrictions can be lifted and local senior citizens can once again fully enjoy the facility.
“This is just really a wonderful thing for us. I’m sure everybody’s going to be excited for it – they already are,” he said. “We’ve talked about this for years and everyone can see that we needed it.”
Crawford added that the new facility is going to be something that should last for the foreseeable future – “15 to 20 years or longer, I suspect,” he said.
The new space, which is an adjacent add-on to the existing building on its north side, includes an exercise room for stationary bikes and treadmills, along with a computer room. It also includes new restrooms and an elevator to provide access to both floors.
Carter Enterprises was awarded the bid for the construction project, which is expected to be completed by late February or early March. If COVID-19 restrictions are lifted or eased, the center could be ready to open, at least in some capacity, shortly thereafter. Possible reopening plans are being worked on by the Iron County Commission, based on the recommendations of Southwest Utah Public Health Department officials.
Cozzens said he and fellow County Commissioners Mike Bleak and Marilyn Wood have made it a goal to try to have the senior center open right after the construction work is completed.
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