New center for seniors underway on Albright Street in Taos

Construction workers dig at the site of the new senior center Monday (July 21) off Albright Road in Taos. (Photo by Morgan Timms, The Taos News)
On any given day, at least 70 people eat at the Phil Lovato Senior Center off of Albright Street. But early next year, those seniors will have a brand new center to enjoy their meals, play pool and practice tai chi.

Construction is underway on a new senior center that will serve the busiest Taos County hub for older folks.

The county started working on the new center earlier this month, with crews doing the dirt work before a contractor comes in to finish the 10,500 square foot prefabricated metal building. County leaders expect the center to be complete sometime during January 2019, according to construction administrator Richard Sanchez.

“Our seniors are very excited. They can’t wait,” said seniors program director Mike Trujillo. He called the current building a “money pit” that has consumed precious financial resources since the county took over the beleaguered Ancianos nonprofit several years ago.

The state asked the county to assume responsibility for the seniors program in 2013 though the transition wasn’t complete until the following year.

Facility Build, a design-build contractor, will construct the new center. The total cost is a bit under $1.8 million, according to Taos County Manager Leandro Cordova.

About 70 percent of the money, or $1.275 million, came from a general obligation bond authorized by New Mexico voters in 2016. The remainder will come from the county’s general fund as well as the “clerk’s recording fee budget,” since about 2,000 square feet of the new building will be used to store the county’s voting machines.

The Phil Lovato center was owned by the town of Taos, which deeded the center to the county during the administrative transition. Only recently did the town remove a “revisionary clause,” at the request of county leaders, so the county can keep the building even though it will no longer be used for senior programming.