From: Joliene Olson
I personally want to say thank you to Anne Scott Plummer for her recent letter. She discussed and summarized the current situation with the Winona Friendship Center beautifully. She covered how great our programs are, our accomplishments related to accreditation and our location deficiencies related to programming very well. There is only one word that I would like to add to the issues and that word is “parking.”
If Winona State begins to offer classes in their beautiful building just across the ally from the Friendship Center, that is going to bring 200 or so students into the area. Many of them may be driving cars. That will be during the hours that the center is open. Add those cars to the problem of locating parking in the area already and it doesn’t matter how much space the Masonic Temple building can add to our space. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH PARKING and NOT enough programming space. We are older people, many of us in our 70s, 80s, and more. We can’t walk three blocks to get from our car to the center. It doesn’t matter if it is summer or winter. (Winter is worse, of course.) The truth is that when you are older and add handicaps to the age, it just doesn’t work. There are people who can’t come to us now for this reason. How many more will stop coming as it gets worse?
The council has reiterated often that they recognize the problem and are working on it. Well, that is fine but how do you add multiple parking spots (some handicapped) to an area that has no open space within a block or less of the corner of Fifth and Main streets? I am sorry but the space just isn’t there. The area where the old middle school auditorium is at is over two blocks away. How does a person needing a cane, wheelchair or motorized scooter get through the snowbanks, across the streets and curbs and into the building? The simple answer is they don’t.
Please, please move us to the East End Rec and allow the older citizens of this community to continue to be able to socialize, educate and entertain themselves. You have found money for hiking trails and other outdoor activities. There are options for you, to us, to fund this project that will benefit not only our youth/children but older adults, too. Respect us enough to care.