Herald American

Norwalk renews lease for bingo at senior citizens center

NORWALK — Bingo advocates will be able to play their game at the Norwalk Senior Citizen Center, 14040 San Antonio Drive, for the next 15 years under a lease agreement tentatively approved by the City Council March 3.

However, final action will come at a later date after council members have a chance to review the lease agreement with the Norwalk Senior Citizens Center Inc. a nonprofit group permitted to operate bingo games at the center under state law.

Councilman Leonard Shryock said he wanted to review details of the lease with an eye toward a possible shorter lease term and more financial information.

The new agreement also includes a request from Councilwoman Cherie Kelley that the bingo group hire a bookkeeper and have annual reviews with city staff “to ensure compliance and understanding,” Social Services Director Veronica Garcia said.

Other than that, the new lease includes the same language as the original 15-year lease approved in April 2000, which expires March 31, Garcia said.

Under state law, the city cannot operate a bingo game to raise funds so the center is leased for bingo only to the nonprofit group made up of senior citizens who attend center events.

Bingo is an important activity as well as a fundraiser for the Senior Center, with between 80 and 100 people attending the twice-a-week games from 1:15 to 4:15 p.m. on Monday and Friday, Garcia said.

The games are open to anyone over age 18 and the center group is authorized to charge a fee for play.

“For many, bingo provides an opportunity to socialize and engage with other people,” Garcia said in a written report to the council.

All the work is done by volunteers and there is no cost of the city. Staff is on hand anyway during those times and may help set up tables and chairs, she said in response to a question from Shryock.

In other action March 3, the council:

• Approved an agreement with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority to extend the deadline for completion of the bridge taking Firestone Boulevard over the San Gabriel River from 2015 to June 30, 2016. The MTA is funding the $14 million joint project with the city of Downey.

• Contracted with DKS Associates, lowest of five bidders at $128,050, to provide engineering and design services for a project to install fiber optic cables along Rosecrans Avenue from Studebaker Road to Carmenita Road and to upgrade traffic signals along the three-mile stretch. Design work should be done this summer with construction getting underway in the fall, said Julian Lee, utilities and projects manager.

Included in the project are installation of pedestrian countdown signals and wheelchair ramps for the handicapped. The project, aimed at improving safety and traffic flow, will be funded by the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program, interim City Engineer William G. Zimmerman said.