BURLINGTON — It’s been a big year for the Burlington Senior Center, which relocated to its new space at 587 E. State St. in January.
Administrator Gail Boydstun spoke about some of the progress that the center has made before the City Council last week. The discussion was held in closed session because the council also was scheduled to negotiate the rental agreement with the center for 2019.
When it returned to open session, the council voted 6-1 to approve an agreement that charged the center no rent for 2019; Alderman Jon Schultz was the sole vote in opposition and Alderman Tom Preusker was absent.
“I was very, very pleased because, to be honest, to have that many members vote to not charge rent,” said Boydstun. “This allows me to relax, so to speak, and be able to concentrate on what I need to do for the seniors here as far as the classes and the events.”
Schultz voted against not charging the center rent for 2018 as well. He told The Journal Times that he voted in opposition for a few reasons: First, that the plan had never been to give the Senior Center the space rent-free.
The second was that the rent that had been calculated to cover the cost of large upgrades that the building, the former Knights of Columbus hall, is going to need in the near future, including a new roof and HVAC system.
Boydstun told The Journal Times that one of her goals for 2019 is for the center to apply for grants to cover the cost of a new roof and HVAC equipment.
Schultz said that if that was how the center handled these expenses, he was fine with it — as long as taxpayers weren’t expected to pay.
Members of the Burlington community have pitched in to revitalize the new space this year. Burlington Glass, 35518 W. State St., donated glass for new windows and Ketter’s Flooring, 257 Milwaukee Ave., donated new flooring that was installed in the main activity room a few weeks ago.
“The seniors are excited,” said Mayor Jeannie Hefty, one of the founders of the Senior Center. “It just brightened up the room again.”
Thrivent Financial, 400 N. Pine St., also donated landscaping materials, which have been put to use by dedicated volunteers.
“This is how our community is — when there’s a need, they step forward, especially for the seniors,” said Hefty. “I think that’s tremendous what is happening here. It’s starting to be a really active senior center for activities and events.”
Center sees growth, support
Boydstun told The Journal Times that she reported to the council that in November alone, 497 seniors had visited the center, as well as an additional 246 non-seniors, who mostly attended private events held in the center’s main hall.
Those people came from as far away as East Troy, Elkhorn, Lake Geneva, Delavan, Williams Bay, Twin Lakes, Wilmot and of course Burlington’s neighbors to the north and northeast, Rochester, Waterford and Wind Lake.
“People are coming from everywhere to attend a lot of the classes and events in the center,” said Boydstun.
The center partnered with Humana Health Insurance and Aurora Health Care to provide health-based programming, such as bone-density testing and classes on heart health and diabetes. The center also offers exercise classes such as senior yoga and beginner’s yoga.
Not having to pay rent also allows the center to provide services and classes for free or at a reduced cost.
“A lot of these people do not have that much money,” said Hefty. “That’s where they can go play cards, enjoy themselves — that’s what it’s all about.”
Boydstun saw the council’s vote not to charge rent a vote of confidence for the center.
“Its been a lot of hard work and a lot of hours,” she said. “When I went to the council meeting and we got that resolved, it really made me feel like all the hours and all the hard work has really paid off.”