Senior Center Election Frequently Asked Questions

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Bond Referendum

1. What is the total estimated project cost and what does it include?

The total estimated project cost for the proposed new Senior Activities Center is $9.6 million. Voters are being asked whether to take on up to $8 million in debt for construction, without an associated tax rate increase, with the remainder being cash funded. This estimate includes all associated studies and site work; professional design and engineering; an envisioned ~23,000-square-foot building; all furniture, fixtures and equipment; and a corresponding expansion of the parking lot at Johnson Road Park (~90 spaces). 

2. I’ve heard a few different prices per square foot discussed in relation to this project. Which is accurate?

Since the total estimated cost of this project takes into account more than just the proposed 23,000-square-foot building, the varying prices per square foot you may have seen discussed or published have likely been based on including various elements of the project into the calculations. Construction of the building itself is estimated at $6.67 million. With that in mind, here are some of the price-per-square-foot figures you may have seen:

  • Building Construction = $290/square foot
  • + Studies, Design, Engineering & Other Site Work (i.e. landscaping)= $372/square foot
  • + Parking Lot (~90 parking spaces to be shared with library and park) = $389/square foot
  • + All Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment & Fitness Equipment = $410/square foot
  • + Contingency = $420/square foot

3. If the proposed new Senior Activities Center has not been designed yet, where is the price estimate coming from?

The price estimate of $9.6 million total is based upon conceptual plans created in partnership between BSW, public input, city staff, and the Parks & Recreation Board, Keller Development Corporation and Keller City Council as part of the needs study process that began in February 2017. The estimated price was also compared against similar senior centers and other public buildings recently constructed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and takes into account the current construction environment and pricing trends in North Texas.

4. How would a new Senior Activities Center impact the tax rate?

There is no tax rate increase associated with this project proposal.

5. Why are citizens voting on the proposal if there is not an associated tax rate increase?

This project was citizen-initiated in 2015 when 146 seniors submitted a petition to the Keller City Council. Since it began with citizen input, city leadership wanted it to end with citizen input as well through a community vote.

6. Without a tax rate increase, where would the money for this project come from?

The city made its final payment this year on debt related to the Keller Town Center Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, which covered the construction of Keller Town Hall, the KISD Natatorium, and the drainage, roads, bridges, trail and park amenities in Town Center. If approved by voters, up to $8 million in debt would be issued by the city to pay for the proposed Senior Activities Center and take advantage of both the fund balance in the TIRZ account as well as the portion of General Fund that has been going to the TIRZ payments since 2000.

7. I’ve heard that the city has enough money in cash reserves to pay for this project without taking on debt. Is that true? And if so, why is the city proposing up to $8 million in new debt obligation?

That is true; the city currently has $10.6 million in its General Fund reserves beyond the required minimum. However, paying for the project in cash would not require that the project go before the voters, and City Council felt it was important for citizens to weigh in on the proposal. Additionally, paying for this project in a lump sum of cash rather than over a 15-year bond would impact the city’s ability to cash fund other projects in the near future, and limit the flexibility of future City Councils to respond to unanticipated community needs.

8. How would the approval of this project impact other capital projects?

Because the proposal being put to Keller voters fits within the funding that until this year has been going toward repayment of the TIRZ, city leadership does not anticipate any impact on other capital projects. For reference, the city’s Capital Improvements Plan includes approximately $48.9 million in street, drainage, water and wastewater infrastructure capital projects over the next five years.

9. How much debt does the City of Keller already have in the General Fund and how does Keller’s debt compare to benchmark cities?

The city’s General Fund, where property taxes make up about 50 percent of revenues, has just under $26.84 million in debt obligation. That includes $23,017,271 in principal and $3,821,615 in interest — $597.22 per capita. The city’s existing General Fund debt is set to be paid off by Fiscal Year 2030. If approved, up to $8 million for a new Senior Activities Center would be issued with a 15-year repayment schedule. Here is how Keller’s General Fund debt per capita compares to neighboring cities with similar demographics and facilities:


Outstanding I&S Debt


Debt Per Capita









North Richland Hills




Flower Mound

















10. Why isn’t this project being covered by the Keller Development Corporation Fund, which typically pays for Keller’s parks and recreation amenities through a voter-approved ½-cent of sales tax revenue?

Individual projects paid out of the Keller Development Corporation Fund do not require a community vote, and city leadership wanted citizens to weigh in on the senior center proposal. The Keller Development Corporation also recently budgeted over $3 million in cash reserves for the development of Milestone Park and the expansion of Overton Ridge Park, and is now focused on a plan to further renovate the Keller Sports Park in the near future.  That fund would not have the debt capacity to pay for a new Senior Activities Center and improvements to the Keller Sports Park at the same time.

11. If the proposed senior center is voted down in November, what would happen to that $9.6 million?

If voters turn down the new senior center proposal, the city would not issue the up to $8 million in debt associated with the project. The $1.6 million in cash that was earmarked for this project as part of the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget pending the November vote would remain in the General Fund fund balance to be used or saved at City Council’s discretion.


Population, Membership & Programming

12. How does the current population of Keller and its senior citizens compare to when the Senior Activities Center was built in 1990?

Keller’s total population in 1990 when the Senior Center was built was 13,683. Of those, 1,496 citizens were 55 or older. The city’s most recent estimates are that our population will grow to 49,700 by the year 2022 with 16,082 of those residents being 55 or older. Through a combination of increased population and the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, we anticipate that more than 32 percent of Keller’s residents will be over the age of 55 by 2022.

13. How many members does the Senior Activities Center currently have, and how many are Keller residents?

As of Aug. 19, 2018, the Keller Senior Activities Center had 899 members. Of those, 599 were residents (66.62 percent). The center also attracts members from Fort Worth, North Richland Hills, Roanoke, Watauga, Haslet and Southlake. In terms of participation based on daily member scans at the facility, 58.3 percent of individual visits to the Keller Senior Activities Center in 2018 were made by residents (as of Aug. 19).

14. Does the city anticipate an increase in membership at the new facility? If current membership at the Keller Senior Activities Center is 899, is the city concerned that a facility capacity of 800 people is too small?

Yes, the city anticipates that membership will increase at the new facility as a result of the building’s increased capacity, expanded programming and new amenities. As a comparable reference, membership at the Town of Flower Mound’s senior center increased from about 800 to 2,500 the first year their new facility opened (in May 2015). Their membership now holds steady at about 2,200 members, roughly 64 percent of which are residents of their community. Since we do not anticipate that all the center’s members would be on site at the same time, we are not concerned that an estimated center capacity of 800 is too small.

15. How much does it cost to become a member of the Senior Center now, and what would membership fees be in the proposed new center?

Membership at the Keller Senior Activities Center is currently free, though fees are charged for certain individual programs and events. The new center being proposed would come with a new membership fee that would vary based on whether the member was a resident or non-resident, similar to the resident/non-resident fee structure that exists already at other city park and recreation amenities. These fees would be benchmarked against the resident/non-resident fees at senior centers in North Texas of similar size and amenities, and approved by the City Council.

16. What programming does the Senior Center offer now, and what would it offer in the proposed new center?

The senior center currently offers over 1,700 programs annually, including fitness classes, arts and crafts, hobby groups, meals, trips, special events and more. The new center would allow for an expanded programming schedule with larger class sizes and a wider variety of activities, including multiple programs at once in separate rooms. The conceptual plan for the center also includes fitness equipment on site for the seniors’ use, a game room including billiards tables, and an active multipurpose room for senior-focused fitness classes, basketball, pickleball and larger events.


Design Proposal & Process

17. Has the proposed new Senior Activities Center already been designed?

No. City leadership chose not to spend the money for designs and engineering for the proposed center until voters had weighed in on the project. If approved in November, $1.6 million in cash reserves from the General Fund’s fund balance have been earmarked in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget to jumpstart the project, which would include a contract for professional design and engineering.

18. What would the design process be if voters approve funding for the center?

The city would hire a design and engineering firm to create plans for the center based on the assessment of the needs study completed by Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects as well as additional public input opportunities. A final design would be vetted by city staff, the Parks & Recreation Board and the Keller City Council. Once the designs are complete, the city would solicit bids for the project’s construction.

19. The proposed 23,000-square-foot facility is more than five times larger than the current building. How did the city arrive at that square footage for its proposal?

City leadership took a number of variables into account in crafting the size of this proposal, including:

  • The increase in Keller’s senior population since the existing facility was built
  • Projections for Keller’s senior population at buildout
  • Ongoing demographic changes as existing generations age
  • National recommendations and best-practices for the size and amenities of community senior centers
  • The size and amenities of recently constructed senior centers in other comparable North Texas communities
  • Public input regarding desired amenities for the new center, and square footage standards for the size of those amenities

20. About 1/3 of the current senior center members are non-residents. Did the consulting firm on this project as well as city leadership consider only Keller’s population in its recommendations, or did they also account for population increases of neighboring communities whose residents may use the facility?

Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects was tasked only with assessing the current and future senior center needs of Keller’s population and its demographics at buildout. Keller’s total population in 1990 when the current Senior Center was built was 13,683. Of those, 1,496 citizens were 55 or older. The city’s most recent estimates are that our population will grow to 49,700 by the year 2022 with 16,082 of those residents being 55 or older. Through a combination of increased population and the ongoing aging of the Baby Boomer generation, we anticipate that more than 32 percent of Keller’s residents will be over the age of 55 by 2022.


Alternative Option Considerations

21. Did the city consider renovating/expanding the existing Senior Activities Center before deciding to propose a new building?

Yes, an assessment of the current facility and the viability of expanding the existing footprint either by adding a second story or by building on to the back of the building were explored as part of this process. It was determined that a renovation and expansion of the existing center to accommodate current and future community needs would cost more than building new — as well as present additional challenges — including:

  • Site Constraints: The physical proximity of the Keller Public Library and the edge of the Johnson Road Park property would create a tight fit for any significant expansion of the current building and force any expansion to the rear of the property.

  • Infrastructure Constraints: A large underground drainage conduit runs behind the existing Keller Senior Activities Center to facilitate stormwater control at Johnson Road Park and some of the surrounding residential properties. Any expansion from the rear of the property would require mitigation of that significant drainage infrastructure. Initial estimates by the Public Works Department are that mitigation of that infrastructure alone would cost about $1 million.

  • Parking Constraints: Adding capacity at the Keller Senior Activities Center would necessitate additional parking on site as well as additional handicapped parking spaces. There is no space for additional parking near the current center, however; the only location parking could be expanded at Johnson Road Park is northwest of the library. The distance between the existing center and a new lot in that location would not provide ideal access for senior citizens.

  • Code Considerations: Any significant expansion or renovation of the existing center would trigger the need for the project to adhere to current building codes. This would include modernization of the building’s lighting to meet modern energy codes, the addition of a fire alarm and fire suppression system, and a variety of updates to comply with current Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

  • Existing Conditions: BSW’s assessment of the current facility also took into account other issues that the city would want to address in any proposed renovation/expansion. These included outdated and ad-hoc audio/visual systems throughout the building that would “benefit greatly from an overhaul”; and concerns about the foundation due to identified drainage issues and mature landscaping adjacent to the building.

  • Ongoing Activity: Any significant renovation/expansion of the existing facility would require the center to close for the duration of construction.

22. Rather than replacing the entire existing center with a new building, did the city consider building a smaller new building to the west of the library, effectively splitting Senior Center activities between the two sites?

Yes. While a smaller building could be less expensive, many of the costs associated with designing, building and equipping a new building would apply to a new facility of any size. Such a plan would also require additional Senior Center staff, which are an ongoing cost, and would not address any of the existing issues at the current building. It would also require seniors and staff to travel back and forth between the two buildings for programming, and would effectively eliminate interactions and socialization between members participating in different activities.

23. Did the city consider transitioning the Senior Center to a multi-generational center?

This multi-generational trend was discussed, but was ultimately turned down. The City of Keller already has what industry standards classify as a multi-generational activity center — The Keller Pointe — which provides recreation activities and programming for all ages as well as discounted membership for seniors. Any duplication of those efforts would create competition for The Keller Pointe, which could impact its ability to earn enough revenue to remain self-sufficient for its maintenance and operation costs (as was intended since its construction). Additionally, seniors who participated in our public input opportunities stated a preference for their own space where all the programming, special events and trips were customized for users 55 and older.

24. Did the city consider further expanding The Keller Pointe to accommodate a Senior Center?

Yes; that option was turned down for a few reasons. First, a significant expansion of The Keller Pointe would require additional parking on site. Due to physical site restrictions from nearby roads and park amenities, the city would realistically need to build a parking garage to meet the requirements of a senior center addition. Second, seniors who participated in our public input opportunities expressed a strong preference to remain at the Johnson Road Park property. Third, relocating the Senior Center to The Keller Pointe property would limit the ability for The Keller Pointe to expand its own amenities in the future. 

25. Did the city consider retrofitting a larger, existing building in town to accommodate the proposed center?

Yes, specifically the old Milestone Church building on Keller Parkway that was available during part of our project assessment period. The purchase price of the building plus the renovations that would have been required to convert the space would have been more expensive than building new on existing city property at Johnson Road Park. It also would have taken potentially valuable commercial property fronting Keller Parkway off the tax rolls.



26. How would the proposed new Senior Activities Center impact parking at the Johnson Road Park site?

About 90 new parking spaces would be added to Johnson Road Park to accommodate the increased capacity of the proposed new center. This parking, like elsewhere on the site currently, would be shared by the library and the park itself.

27. How would the location of the proposed new center impact Johnson Road Park amenities?

While the exact location would be determined as part of design and engineering, we anticipate that the proposed new building and its associated parking would cover the grassy area at the north end of the property as well as the sand volleyball court on site. City staff has proposed moving (rebuilding) the basketball courts on site since that amenity remains popular. The existing playground, pavilions and trail loop would remain in place.

28. If Proposition A is approved, how would the city use the current Senior Activities Center once the new one was built?

Use of the existing building has not been determined at this point, but the most popular idea among city leadership is to relocate the Friends of the Keller Library bookstore. The Friends, a nonprofit organization that sells books and other material to fund donations for the Keller Public Library, currently operates out of a small city-owned building in Old Town Keller. Such a move would allow them to expand their offerings, offer a more convenient location to patrons of the library and allow the city to sell the Old Town Keller property for commercial use, putting it back on the tax rolls. The existing Senior Center building could also be utilized for special events and additional library programming.


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