Woodlawn plans to start senior center

$500,000 facility will be community center addition

September 21, 2004|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A senior center is being built in Woodlawn as an expansion of the community center on Gwynn Oak Avenue, Baltimore County officials said.

The 2,200-square-foot addition - scheduled to be completed in January - will provide space for senior fitness, health and arts programs. The design will also allow seniors to use the community center's gym and the community center to use the senior center's space, said Arnold Eppel, director of the county's Department of Aging.

"This was a natural match," he said. "This is an older community. It needs these services."

A groundbreaking ceremony at the Woodlawn site is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.

About half of the $500,000 addition will be covered by state grants, and the rest will come from county funds, Eppel said.

Councilman Kenneth N. Oliver said that as the population in Woodlawn continues to age, the need for services will continue to grow.

When County Executive James T. Smith Jr. met with area residents last year, they listed a senior center as a priority, said Oliver, a Randallstown Democrat.

"This is all part of the renaissance taking place in Baltimore County. ... It will be the first time Woodlawn has ever had a senior center," he said.

A Catholic Charities study also concluded that senior programs were a major need in the Woodlawn area and responded with plans to build a federally subsidized, 74-unit high-rise for low-income seniors, said Aileen McShea, program coordinator of senior services for that organization. The project at Security Boulevard and Mount Vernon Drive is to be completed in 2006, she said.

There are 18 senior centers in the county, most with more than 200 members, Eppel said.

McShea said that although Woodlawn seniors could take a bus to the Catonsville Senior Center, they were hoping the county would open one closer.

St. Luke's United Methodist Church on Gwynn Oak Avenue serves as a county nutrition center, providing lunch for about 30 senior citizens twice a week near the community center. Eppel said more seniors could be served at the new center.

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