Precinct 3 senior center nears completion
The Westside Senior Education Center is 90 percent complete, but won't be open to the public until the New Year.
Construction is almost done, but the building is a shell," said Rick Sander, executive assistant to Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack. We still have to acquire the audio/visual equipment, computers and furniture."
Once everything is in place, the precinct will begin training senior citizens as volunteer instructors, Sander said.
The 14,000-square foot facility sits on five acres at 16600 Pine Forest Road, a few blocks from Bill Archer Park.
The precinct received a $1.9 million federal grant from Housing and Urban Development to put toward the project, estimated at $3.2 million. The grant is allocated in phases, most recently in the amount of $66,440 for construction and related activities.
The single-story building will feature three computer classrooms, three multi-function classrooms, an assembly room, kitchen, lounge area, astronomy/science room, auditorium and parking for 75.
Sander said the facility is environmentally friendly, with energy-efficient lighting, sensors to reduce electricity use and rainwater harvesting.
Rainwater from the roof will be collected in an underground cistern, and will then be used to flush toilets.
The building will also be senior friendly.
Sander said overhead lighting fixtures are non-glare, floor transitions are smooth, a sound system features even amplification throughout the rooms, push-button entry doors makes the facility easily accessible, and a canopy-covered front entrance will protect those being dropped off from inclement weather.
Seniors age 55 and older who are residents of Harris County will be able to take a variety of free classes, including word processing, astronomy, emergency preparedness, digital photo editing, banking, and in a class titled It's Not Your Mother's Library," they will learn how to use computerized catalogues and databases.
I believe the center will be extremely popular because it's multi-dimensional and seniors will be afforded the opportunity to learn a lot of different things," said Radack.
For more information about becoming a volunteer instructor or assistant instructor, or to have your name placed on a mailing list for upcoming classes, call 713-981-4703.
This is Radack's second building exclusive to seniors.
The first, a two-classroom, 1,400-square-foot facility, opened in January 2000 in Bayland Park.
As soon as we opened we had a one-year waiting list," Radack said last year.
In 2004, the precinct received a $153,500 HUD grant and went to build a larger, 10,000-square-foot facility.
The Jim and JoAnn Fonteno Senior Education Center is located at 6600 Bissonnet.
We wanted another site since Fonteno is so far down in Houston, Sander said. We're really excited to have a second site closer to the northern part of the precinct."
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