In a letter to the editor published in The Post and Courier on Nov. 19, the author writes of the need for a senior center to serve the older adults of West Ashley. The city of Charleston is very sensitive to the needs of older adults and clearly understands the need for and the importance of a senior center in the West Ashley area.

The city’s regional senior center on James Island, the Lowcountry Senior Center, has been a tremendous success and a wonderfully positive influence on the lives of so many older adults over the past decade. With our partner, Roper St. Francis Healthcare, the city has created an innovative senior center that has served as a model for other centers both locally and nationally. Lowcountry Senior Center is the first and only nationally accredited senior center in South Carolina, which is a testament to its superior quality.

The city is committed to providing this same level of excellence to older adults in West Ashley. The first steps in this process are under way. We are actively working with Roper St. Francis Healthcare to site a senior center on the campus of St. Francis Hospital. The central location in the heart of West Ashley makes the St. Francis Hospital site the ideal location for a senior center.

This location will also allow the city to maintain our partnership with Roper St. Francis Healthcare, which we believe will allow this new center to achieve national accreditation just as the Lowcountry Senior Center has accomplished. Concept design work will begin soon, which will be shared with West Ashley seniors prior to fully scale design efforts. With some potential funding support from the state, Charleston County and grant opportunities, the city hopes to have the center fully funded and construction under way if not complete in 2015. The city has already identified $3.2 million of its own funds to be used towards design and construction.

While the city works towards the senior center described above, it is taking strong steps in increasing senior programming in West Ashley in the near term. In its 2014 budget the city is committing an additional $50,000 to expand senior programming at the Bees Landing Recreation Complex in partnership with the Lowcountry Senior Center beginning early in the New Year. This is in addition to the many city programs already offered in the West Ashley area that are designed specifically for older adults at W.L. Stephens Aquatic Center, Bees Landing, and several of our other recreational facilities.

The city of Charleston knows firsthand the important role that an accredited senior center plays in a community, and we are committed to bringing this much-needed resource to older adults in West Ashley.

Joseph P. Riley Jr.

Mayor, City of Charleston

Broad Street