A grand reopening was held Monday for the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center, a facility shared by El Dorado County Mental Health until the department’s recent departure.
For more than two years, the county utilized several rooms at the Senior Center for some of its mental health operations. The situation created friction between the two groups, but much of that uneasiness has been extinguished now that the county has moved its wellness center for mental health patients out of the building.
“With optimism, we are going forward,” said R.S. Lynn, vice president of the Tahoe Basin Senior Citizens Center, to a room of seniors and city officials Monday.
Employees from the City of South Lake Tahoe recently spruced up the facility by repainting, reorganizing and restoring the building so seniors “could fully utilize offices, dance room, library, game room, and other areas to once again serve the seniors exclusively,” according to a city press release.
Seniors gathered to celebrate getting back full use of their community center during the reopening. Mayor Pro Tem Brooke Laine and city council members Tom Davis, Angela Swanson and JoAnn Conner were among those in attendance.
“We’re happy to be able to come in and make some amenities available to you right away,” Laine said at the event. “We know that you will continue to use this center to its fullest, and perhaps you even have plans later on down the road to do more, which we encourage you to do.”
“We’re just so glad that we can be here today, all of us, to celebrate this great facility and all that you do in this facility,” she added. “So, welcome home seniors.”
Over the past two years, membership at the Senior Center has declined by about 100 to 255 people, and it has been said that the Center’s goal is to get those members back.
Lauren Thomaselli, recreation manager for the City of South Lake Tahoe, said the extra space resulting from the county’s departure will help bring back some of the programs lost at the Senior Center.
“Since the merge between mental health services and senior services, membership to the Senior Citizens Organization has dramatically declined,” she said in a statement. “The lack of space resulted in elimination of programs and uncomfortable conditions throughout the facility as many services were consolidated into one room of the 10,000-square-foot facility.”
“Restoring the rooms to their original purpose will allow seniors to reinstate social activities and improve the quality of life for all members,” she added.
The mental health department, which had moved some of its operations into the Senior Center in an effort to reduce costs for both sides, has temporarily moved its wellness center into a trailer. The trailer is set up near the County Government Center on Johnson Boulevard.