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The Journal Record (Oklahoma City, OK)


OKLAHOMA CITY - A MAPS 3 overage could be a boon for seniors.

Most MAPS 3 subcommittee members are in favor of considering a fifth senior wellness center in Oklahoma City. Committee member Terri Watkins said she wasn't yet convinced adding a fifth wellness center should be a priority.

The Metropolitan Area Projects 3 senior health and wellness center subcommittee discussed on Wednesday a measure to support adding another facility. Residents aged 50 and older need access to reasonably priced fitness facilities. Another wellness center could improve the health of the city's aging population.

Subcommittee chairman Mike Dover said his group is not asking for money yet, and they haven't yet decided on a location or a contractor to run another center. If there is broad support for another senior wellness center, then his subcommittee would examine the best place to put it, he said.

Subcommittee member Sam Bowman said if voters responding to polls supported trails, sidewalks and wellness centers, then the committee should consider supporting another wellness center.

Watkins voted against the resolution, but she said she isn't necessarily opposed to a fifth center. She said the city needs wellness centers because those facilities are vitally important to improve Oklahoma City residents' health. Better health outcomes will improve the local economy, she said.

"I'm not there yet on whether a fifth wellness center is a priority above sidewalks," Watkins said, "when I see people walking in the streets in neighborhoods and I know the economic impact of a park. "

She said it's too soon to determine the best priority, because the city needs more sidewalks.

MAPS program manager David Todd said early discussions of MAPS 3 projects included four or five senior wellness centers.

Dover said the resolution provides a signal to the City Council that if there is surplus money after the convention center and the downtown Central Park projects have received bids, subcommittee members have suggestions on how to spend it. Members passed a resolution Wednesday to recommend consideration of an additional wellness center to the MAPS advisory board. If the advisory board approves the recommendation, then it will send a report to the City Council identifying the interest.

The project is contingent on excess revenues generated from MAPS 3's 1-cent sales tax, Todd said. The first senior wellness center is nearing completion and is slated to open in February 2017. It cost about $9.6 million. Each of the four approved centers are slightly different, but should provide similar services, Todd said.

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December 20, 2016


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