Editorial: Seniors need to sit down with park board

One of the more recent suggestions from the United Senior Citizens of Bend in its dispute with the Bend Park & Recreation District is, well, peculiar.

The USCB has suggested the park district offer to pay the debts of Bend’s Community Center with money USCB says the park district owes it.

Admittedly, there is some appeal to that argument. The center has been a valuable social service provider, running one of the largest food kitchens in Central Oregon. The USCB had operated out of an office at the center’s main building. And the center came close to sputtering out of existence. Last month, the center said it was some $110,000 in debt and was still trying to figure out how to climb out.

But if the center couldn’t manage money, why give it more?

It doesn’t make sense to send more money right now to an organization whose own board decided its best option was to disband. The center continues now, in part, because the board didn’t follow the appropriate procedures to close when the board voted to close.

It doesn’t make sense to send money to the center because their mission’s are so different. The park district’s responsibility is to provide parks and recreation to the community. That’s not what the center does. There may be some ways in which the two overlap or could overlap. But they have different purposes. So how could the district’s board vote to eradicate the center’s debt and remain true to its mission?

It doesn’t make sense to send money to the center because it’s not even clear the park district owes USCB a penny.

The USCB asked the park district to pay back nearly $1 million USCB says it raised to build the Bend Senior Center. The USCB claims the park district diverted the center’s mission. Members of USCB have testified that the district has failed to provide enough services to serve less physically active seniors and those who can’t afford to pay for activities.

The USCB has threatened a lawsuit. It’s offered to go into mediation.

The park district has disputed USCB’s claims.

What USCB hasn’t yet done is specifically outline to the park board what services for seniors it should be providing that it is not. The park board has offered to meet with the USCB board to discuss what it could do.

If the USCB is truly interested in avoiding a courthouse battle, as its attorney Bill Buchanan maintains, we would think it couldn’t wait to sit down with the board.

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