Senior center opens new complex

July 16, 2006|By DAVID P. GREISMAN | DAVID P. GREISMAN,SUN REPORTER

As a band played, hundreds of seniors and visitors ate slices of cake, celebrating the opening of a new senior center by filling a dining room that, in its old location, would barely have been able to seat half of them.

On Friday morning, Carroll County opened the North Carroll Senior & Community Center, a 25,000-square-foot facility in Greenmount that is more than four times the size of its former location.

The additional space will allow an increased number of activities for seniors, as the new building has separate areas designated for various activities, such as crafts, games, exercising and billiards.

"We were just too crowded," said Renee Deiaco, the center manager. "We couldn't do different activities at the same time because the room wasn't available.

Plans on the $2.8 million center began in July 2005, with construction and renovation taking place during the past six-and-a-half months, said Ralph Green, county director of general services.

"I had people tell me they didn't come to the [former] building because there was no parking and the facility was too crowded," Deiaco said. "We can accommodate more people and provide more programming [in the new building]."

The tight fit created unfavorable conditions for the center's exercise equipment, Deiaco said.

"The space was so compromised it was barely usable," she said.

The new center's exercise room, though, contains seven machines, including four treadmills spread out in front of a long mirror.

"I like to work out, so I'll probably go to the workout room," said Walter Isham, 75, who recently moved to Hampstead with his wife Loretta, 77.

For Pat Quigley, 79, Phyllis Gettier, 70, and Caroline Grady, 70, all of Manchester, one highlight of the new center is the cards and game room, which will allow the avid Scrabble players to compete without distractions from nearby line dancers.

"Everything was jammed in together," Quigley said. "Everything was old. Everything is new here, and the air conditioning is good."

Grady said she also feels comfortable in the new facility.

"It looks like you want to go in there, take your shoes off and sit for a spell," she said. "The lighting is a lot better here, and with all these rooms having giant windows, it gives an open feeling."

The new building also comes with a new name, as each of the county's five senior centers are changing to "senior and community" centers, said Patty Whitson, community services supervisor for the county Bureau of Aging.

"This is the future of senior centers in Carroll County," said Richard W. Steinberg, chief of the Bureau of Aging. "We're opening it up to the community at large, but especially to the seniors."

Whitson said community nonprofit groups could use the facility for meetings.

Grady said she would welcome younger visitors.

"I'm hoping we'll get younger ages in for Scrabble," she said. "It's harder to beat them."

The new North Carroll Senior & Community Center is at 2328 Hanover Pike within the North Carroll Plaza shopping center in Greenmount.

Information: 410-386-3900.

david.greisman@baltsun.com

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