The Humble Senior Activity Center, which provides free services to the area's elderly population, will be demolished by the end of 2020, Humble city officials said.

Instead, seniors will be relocated to the nearby Humble Civic Center for all future activities. The city's senior bus service will continue to operate, officials said.

Humble City Council unanimously approved demolishing the center, located at 1401 S. Houston Ave., at the Sept. 1 City Council meeting. The original Aug. 27 meeting was postponed to Sept. 1 out of precaution for Hurricane Laura.

"We have some good ideas [about] making that [program] even better for us," Humble Mayor Merle Aaron said. "This is looking toward the future."

The Senior Activity Center provides activities to roughly 350-400 active members, offering them reading, Spanish and exercise classes as well as movie days and luncheons, officials said.

Humble City Manager Jason Stuebe said the decision to demolish the center, which opened in 1994, was made recently amid the coronavirus pandemic and was not something the city had previously planned. The center, which has been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic, has been in need of a new air conditioning system and other costly repairs, he said.

The building was first constructed in 1978 and used by the Humble First Assembly of God Church as its Worship and Christian Education Center, said Lyle Countryman, whose father, Jack Countryman, was the pastor at the time. Pastor Milton Pool, who is the current pastor at the church, said the church sold the building to the city in the early 1990s and relocated to a bigger building on FM 1960.

Stuebe said the city will spend roughly $30,000 of the fiscal year 2020-21 budget to demolish the building by the end of the year instead of spending more funds to renovate the 42-year-old building.

"We may have to invest a little in repurposing some portions of the Civic Center to do that, but if we can provide a better service at a lower cost, lower overhead, because we are utilizing a facility we already have, I think that's certainly something we need to take a look at," Stuebe said.

The city will consider building a new activity center in the future, he said. Stuebe said the city intends to keep the property the center is on and is considering future development options.

Humble Civic Center Director Jennifer Wooden, whose department oversees the activity center, said moving the community members to the Civic Center will allow for a more robust experience for the city's seniors once they are allowed to safely congregate amid the pandemic.

"[The Civic Center] can be multifunctional in the sense that we will still host or rent out the facility for events, but at the same time it's such a magnificent space," she said. "I think it's going to be a great space to nurture vibrancy and health and wellness."

In addition to relocating the program, program directors are considering restructuring the senior activity program to be "multigenerational" and open to more age groups, Wooden said.

"My mom is part of a multigenerational activity program, and I feel like her life is enriched by it, and I also feel like the younger people are enriched by her wisdom," she said.

While the pandemic certainly pushed the city to make a quick decision regarding the future of the Senior Activity Center, Wooden said she believes it is best for the future of the program.

"I think this is a time where most organizations are thinking outside the box," she said, "Fortunately for the city of Humble, we have such a great structure and great bones that we could do a shift and it didn't hurt us, but it actually ended up being something better."

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated the Humble Senior Activity Center was built in 1994. The article has been updated with the appropriate history.