But in addition to the amenities one might expect to find in a senior center, the brand-new edifice that officially opened last Friday in Brentwood includes some 21st-century extras that make it cutting edge – not just for seniors, but the entire community.
There’s a 52-inch plasma TV, Wii video system, Internet connectivity and a sound system that accepts iPod hookups. There’s also an all-stainless-steel commercial kitchen with sub-zero freezer and eight-burner stove, an expandable hardwood dance floor and cable TV.
“It’s endless what we can do,” said Poldina Scherf of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, who spearheaded the 19-contractor, 12-month effort to build the new center. “It’s all ready to go.”
The 8,400-square-foot center, completed under its $5.5 million budget, also includes a billiard/games room and classrooms in addition to the main hall.
The center is located at Balfour Road and Griffith Lane, next to Veterans Park and the Brentwood Family Aquatic Center, about half as far from the Summerset retirement communities as was the downtown Community Center that had previously been home to the city’s senior programming.
“This was the ideal spot for this senior center,” Brentwood Senior Citizen Club President Bente Peterson said during the ribbon-cutting ceremonies. “It is without a doubt the most beautiful building in Brentwood.”
During the tour that followed the ribbon cutting, Gene Brown, a member of the Senior Citizens Club, first said that his favorite part of the new center was the décor, then he said it was the location, then the floor plan. He finally settled on the fact that so many people were involved, with special thanks to the Parks and Rec Department.
Club members and other residents were highly involved in the process of building the center, leading Mayor Bob Taylor to say the outcome “shows a lot of people really care for our community. I can tell you for sure, this place will not be a well-kept secret. It will be abuzz with activity.”
Sarah Miller, who worked for 20 years in senior centers in several states, wasn’t part of the planning process, but nevertheless found the facility “beautiful. I’ve worked in old ones and new ones, and I’ve not seen one nicer.”
In addition to providing a permanent home for the city’s senior activities, Scherf said, the facility will be available to the rest of the community for weddings, parties, meetings and other functions, similar to the way the current Community Center is.
The senior programs began moving to the new center this week, starting with the Oldies But Goodies activities program for frail seniors held in conjunction with Liberty Adult Education. Scherf said that within two weeks, all senior programming will be shifted to the new center. The move assures senior activities can continue uninterrupted when the former center is removed to clear the way for the downtown Civic Center.
Friday’s ribbon cutting was followed by the center’s first official function, a Black and White Ball. “It was fantastic,” said Peterson. We’ve held other dinner dances in the past few years, but it really takes a lot to dress up that old center. This was so elegant, people didn’t want to go home.”