Blue Terrace senior apartments, community center updates

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The Winters Senior Commission on Aging heard updates on the construction of the senior apartment building and on the development of the anticipated senior community center at their Sept. 9 meeting last Wednesday.

Colleen Brock, a Senior Management Analyst with Yolo County Housing, reported to Commissioners that construction of the Blue Mountain Terrace senior apartments was 50 percent completed. Next on the contractor’s task list was to install windows and doors.

Blue Mountain Terrace will provide 63 apartment homes and a senior community center between Grant Avenue and Baker Street (behind the Winters Healthcare Foundation building). The three-story residential building will offer 1 and 2 bedroom apartments to seniors living on a fixed income.

Tracy Jensen, City Clerk, told the Express the City of Winters and Yolo County Housing approved an Intergovernmental Agreement for grant management services for housing, community development consulting services, and as a technical advisor to the City.  

Jensen said upon Housing Manger Dan Maguire’s retirement the staff felt this was the best way to provide continuity in affordable housing implementation, as well as all things housing. 

At previous meetings Commissioners had expressed concerns about the apartment units each needing access to a generator in the case of power outages/planned power shutoffs.

Brock reported that construction too far along to change for individual apartments. However, the contractor was having conversations with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and other community agencies regarding a natural gas generator to provide backup power to the community room and offices of the building.

Although the City had received a Community Development Block Grant for $3,500,000 for the facility and public improvements for the Blue Mountain Senior Center, Brock said there is a funding issue for the projects.

In addition, Brock noted due to most of the apartment buildings electrical infrastructure already in place providing generator options for the Blue Mountain Terrace apartment project were limited. Other factors included determining what costs would look like, if it can be connected to the current electrical panels in place, and finding a safe location to place it.

“The project is already half built. To try and go back and have a generator be installed and connect all of the electrical to all of the apartments,” Brock said. “It should have been done two years ago in the planning stage.”

Going forward, planning for the Blue Mountain senior community center would be revisited to include a generator and consider enough space to allow for multiple residents to be able to safely gather, connect medical equipment, and plug in wireless devices.

There are challenges, however, in considering usage of the senior center as a place for residents to gather for a power shut off or as a cooling station for an extreme heat wave. Brock shared that currently there are no plans for it to be open 24/7. The City would also have to ensure a staff member would be available to be present at night or on the weekends in an emergency situation.

Commissioners requested that Brock look into the possibility of adding solar panels when plans were revisited.

Brock said she is currently talking with City officials to take another look at the senior community center building plans to see if anything needs to be changed or revised, including adding a backup generator and the air filtration system.

She plans to circle back with concerns from the Commissioners and the senior community. Design changes will be brought to a future Planning Commission meeting.

She said they were in the process of creating the bid packet and will begin soliciting construction bids for the project.

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