Ashland Senior Center to see changes in the future

Ashland, Ore. — Dozens of Ashland senior citizens are concerned with the future of the Senior Center.

Parks and Recreation Commissioners voted to move forward with recommendations to change the program.

The meeting ended with many disappointed residents.

The director of Ashland Parks and Recreation is hoping everyone can see the big step is about expanding the program without losing what it already has.

“This is devastating to all of us,” Ashland resident Jackie Bachman said.

Jackie Bachman has been very involved with the Ashland Senior Center since she moved into town two and half years ago.

She and dozens of others were disappointed Wednesday night after Parks and Recreation commissioners voted to reorganize the Ashland Senior Program.

“We have spoken up and said ‘please don’t change what we have here because we’re so happy with what we have,'” Bachman said.

Community members speaking at the meeting said there wasn’t enough time and senior citizens weren’t involved in the decision-making process.

“We gave input, but we were not listened to,” Bachman said.

Michael Black is the director of Ashland Parks and Recreation.

He says the department will look at recommendations ranging from forming an official subcommittee to redesigning the senior program to make it more inclusive.

“Our goal is to continue to offer everything we’re offering now and expand even further to get those people who want more activity than what is going on right now so that they can be a part of the program as well,” Black said.

Perhaps the most contentious recommendation mentioned was potentially laying off staff to fit the needs of the new program.

Black says those employees wouldn’t be forgotten.

“If we find through the ad hoc process that the people we currently have can fit those roles, those new roles absolutely they’ll have every opportunity as everybody else does and perhaps even a little bit more to apply for those positions and be considered for those positions,” Black said.

Bachman says the decision may be made to move forward with change, but she and her friends aren’t giving up and will fight to keep the program they love as it is.

“We’ll be strategizing and we’ll be involved in action moving forward,” Bachman said.

Director Michael Black says the next step is setting up the ad hoc committee and evaluating the reorganization of the program.

He also wants to make sure they don’t move too quickly.

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