Rapid City is deficient when it comes to providing basic services for senior citizens, from a lack of suitable housing to difficulty obtaining basic medical care and transportation, according to a recent university survey.
The Rapid City Council briefly discussed a senior needs assessment at its Monday night meeting. The report, based on a survey of local residents, calls into question whether Rapid City is truly a community that is friendly to seniors.
The assessment was prepared by the University of South Dakota Government Research Bureau, which asked area seniors aged 50 and older what could be improved in the city over the next five to 20 years.
Overall, about half of the survey's community standards were deemed below expectations.
"It's basically a laundry list of things that need attention in the senior citizen community," Sandy Diegel, the executive director of the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, said before the meeting.
The council voted to accept the report, and added an amendment that allows city staff to review improvements the city council could make. The issue will come before the Legal & Finance Committee by its July 10 meeting.
Areas found insufficient in Rapid City included not enough affordable, single-level homes; lack of access to basic and specialized medical care as well as mental health care, a dearth of fitness opportunities, individualized transportation and access for the disabled; and even poor access to services and shopping.
Diegel said another need shared in the report is a severe lack of nursing home beds. She acknowledged the council cannot address all of the concerns on its own, and she urged private entities to step up and help.
Diegel said one big issue for senior citizens is the lack of a central location for senior resources.
"The point of it was there was a need for centralized information for seniors and possibly some services for seniors in addition to recreation and fitness," she said. "Having a central resource center would make that available to them.”
In other action
Also Monday night, the Rapid City Council approved $23,526 for the engineering firm CETEC to study onsite water resources for irrigation at the proposed Soccer Rapid City complex. The money would come from “vision funds” allotted to Soccer Rapid City. Vision funds are derived from a local sales tax and are granted to local groups to better the community.
Ted Schultz, principal engineer for CETEC, said last week the firm will review the possibility of using groundwater for irrigating the complex's fields in place of treated municipal water. Schultz said the firm will assess the cost of drilling onsite wells, pumping the water and water storage. The life-cycle cost of both options will be compared over a 20-year period.
He said options for onsite water lie among the water table located within the Inyan Kara Aquifer and the Madison Aquifer.
One possible concern for using onsite resources is the heat of the water coming out of the ground. The water may be too hot to irrigate the fields; meaning additional costs would surface from cooling the water before use.