AUBURN — The city is looking to spend unused bond funds on a proposed senior center project slated for Pettengill Park. 

The City Council approved a first reading Monday to use $42,000 in unspent capital improvement bonds on the project, which aims to renovate a former Parks Department garage into a community gathering space for seniors. 

The city had already approved $95,000 in capital improvement funds toward renovating the space into a senior center, but Finance Director Jill Eastman said the lowest bid on the construction came in at $126,000. 

Councilor Leroy Walker said despite the higher costs, the senior center project is still sorely needed.

“This will give the senior citizens somewhere to go, hold their meetings, and do fun things,” he said, adding that it may result in programs that the city hasn’t seen.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Walker said. 

The $42,000 in bond funding came from capital improvement bonds that weren’t previously spent. A public hearing on the item will be held March 20. 

Councilor Andrew Titus said he was disappointed to see the higher costs for the project. He said he was “disgusted” that projects “always come in higher” than their estimated cost. 

Despite the concerns, the council voted unanimously on a first reading to use the bond funds toward the project. 

Eastman said some of the $95,000 approved this year has already been spent on design work and documents to bid the project. 

According to the City Council memo, the senior center will “provide the community with a large meeting space, with the primary focus to provide seniors with a place to gather for programs and events, but also be utilized by other community groups and events.”

The memo lists “disadvantages” of the project as, “Loss of storage space for Public Services and Police for their vehicles/equipment.” 

A public meeting was held in September 2016 to hear feedback from the community on what the center should include. 

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