SAAA to move county center to Woodstock

WOODSTOCK – A regional agency that helps senior citizens plans to move its center from Edinburg to a church in town.

The Board of Supervisors recently voted to allow the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging to break its lease with the county and move out of its space in the Charterhouse School in Edinburg by April 30 – about nine months before the agreement expires.

The agency plans to offer its services at the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, 1167 Lakeview Drive. The move will take place over the next month, Executive Director Catherine Galvin said recently.

“By May 1 we’ll be fully operational in our new location,” Galvin said.

She explained the reason for the decision to move.

“Although well-intended, the building is not that accessible for older adults … and they had to walk a very long way to get to the restroom,” Galvin said. “There were issues with the Charterhouse about the parking.

“We were restricted to an area, because of their school buses and everything, where it was not helpful for older adults and it was hard for them and so we were looking for a space that was more accessible for older adults,” she added.

Some of the agency’s clients became frail as they aged and had a harder time with the accommodations, she said. The SAAA scoped out new locations in the church community for about six months as it dealt with accessibility issues. Galvin said the church is “ideal” for the agency’s needs.

The agency plans to lease the space for a year at a time, she said.

“They have been extremely gracious to accommodate our needs so we wanted to make sure that, for the first year, everything would work out and then we’ll look at a longer-term arrangement,” Galvin said.

The agency no longer prepares meals at the school facility. The SAAA now contracts through Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock to prepare the meals to ensure they meet certain nutritional standards for the clients, Galvin explained.

The SAAA served 83 people and prepared 2,816 meals at the center in Edinburg last year, she said.

The agency’s early departure from its lease means a loss in revenue, County Administrator Mary T. Price explained. The county budgeted $400 per month through January 2018 under terms of the rent agreed upon in the lease. The county can expect to lose $1,200 in rent.

However, Charterhouse’s rent also increased this year. The Charterhouse School lease already allows the use of the SAAA space, Price said. The lease with the school also includes language that beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, Charterhouse will pay an additional $2,000 in annual rent for each student in excess of 30. The rent initially was $300,000 and Charterhouse is currently paying based on 45 students or $27,333, Price explained.

The Board of Supervisors cut the local contribution to the SAAA in the current budget. Advocates of the agency asked the board recently to reconsider funding the SAAA at the current level given that the amount is still below the county’s allocation before the reduction.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com