Seniors seek more activities

Modesto's seniors want City Hall to brighten up their golden years with more activities and better services, according to a survey the city released this week.

Tops on the wish list for the 400 Modesto residents who were polled:

New recreational programs at sites other than the Modesto Senior Citizens Center on Bodem Street

A bus to pick up seniors and take them to events

Better communication about city-sponsored activities

More city employees dedicated to senior programs

Jill Klajic, a member of the Stanislaus County Commission on Aging, said the city should expect to hear more calls for improved senior services as baby boomers retire.

"I'm a baby boomer and I'm going to demand more services from our city," said Klajic, 61, who worked on the survey with the city and spoke at a City Council Safety and Communities Committee meeting Monday.

Klajic said she and others were motivated to approach the city out of concern that the senior center was falling into disrepair. The city and a nonprofit senior citizens group last year renewed a lease on the building and began plans to remodel its kitchen.

"We still would like to have a senior center in the city of Modesto that we all can be proud of," she said.

Officials said they want to provide what the seniors want, but face one major obstacle: money.

"We're trying to incorporate the changes as we can," said Julie Hannon, Modesto's acting parks director. "I don't know that right now we'll be able to do a lot of these."

Acting City Manager Jim Niskanen said Modesto would look into finding state grants to pay for improvements to the senior center. The city expects a tight budget in the coming year.

Councilman Will O'Bryant said the city's budget outlook would limit options for new senior services, but he requested bimonthly reports to keep the survey fresh.

"I like the idea," he said. "I wish we weren't in the budget times we're in."

Janeen Studley, one of Klajic's colleagues on the aging commission, said the additional activities would pay off by keeping seniors healthier.

"The fastest way to keep them out of convalescence is to give them activities," Studley said.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at aashton@modbee.com or 578-2366.

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