Last updated: February 16. 2013 2:25AM - 300 Views

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The Dallas Senior Center closed earlier this month due to safety and visibility concerns, and local seniors are worried another center won??t come soon enough.

Trula Hollywood, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging for Luzerne and Wyoming counties, said an issue with flooring posed safety concerns and would have been too expensive to fix.

??We vacated that building because of safety issues,? she said. ??There were issues with possible falling, and cars having difficulty making turns in the parking lot. We wanted to be more visible in the community and have a larger space, as well.?

She also said there were moisture problems in the building, which caused the floor to buckle. The flooring was installed in 2009 through a grant, and Luzerne County chose the contractor involved in the project.

The center was a tenant at the 22 Rice St., Dallas location for about 25 years. The building was once the site of the Back Mountain Memorial Library Auction, and the surrounding grounds were used for firemen??s bazaars.

Tim Carroll, owner of the building and borough mayor, said the agency must pay for the flooring because its installation was a violation of the lease.

He said he was never notified that there was an issue with the former flooring and was surprised to see new flooring installed in 2009. He said it wasn??t installed properly, which caused the linoleum flooring to bubble in areas.

Carroll estimated it would cost about $4,800 to repair the floor.

Carroll said he also was never told of any other problems within the building. He said other issues that were expressed to him were promptly remedied.

??I got a note from ladies at the center asking to fix the toilet and I came right over,? he said. ??No one ever told me there was a problem with it.?

Hollywood said a letter was sent to Carroll before the flooring was installed.

Now seniors are left to attend centers in other communities, including Edwardsville, Kingston and Tunkhannock, until a new senior center can be secured in Dallas.

Alfreda ??Susie? Malak, of Dallas, said a main concern for her senior center friends is traveling costs. She said some locals who attended lunch at the senior center every day are now going to other centers just once a week.

??Now we go to Edwardsville, but a lot of the older people don??t want to go down the highway and get into the traffic,? she said. ??Some people, with the cost of gas, aren??t coming to get their meals and might spend it on Burger King instead.?

Senior centers offer a hot meal for registered seniors every day for $2. Malak, 69, said with the other locations anywhere from eight to 18 miles away, the costs of traveling could put a dent in the budgets of people living on fixed incomes.

??It??s like a stake in the heart,? said Malak.

Shirley McDonald, 85, said some of the older center attendees just can??t make the trip. She said county buses will only travel a certain distance so the close group of about 30 seniors keep in touch in other ways.

??We??re worried about our friends,? she said.

Sherlene Long, director of the Edwardsville center, said she got her start in the agency at the Dallas center and welcomes all Back Mountain residents with open arms.

??We welcome them, make them feel at home, introduce them to people,? she said. ??We do things any which way to make them feel at home.?

Malak hopes a new center in Dallas will be available soon. Hollywood said the bidding process is just beginning and may take months to complete.

??I told them, ??Don??t forget about us,??? Malak said. ??We need our own place.?

Now seniors are left to attend centers in other communities, including Edwardsville, Kingston and Tunkhannock, until a new senior center can be secured in Dallas.

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