Apex wants to build senior center

aramos@newsobserver.comMarch 20, 2014 

— Beth Sears looked around the room and figured the rain kept away some of the participants of her Wednesday afternoon senior-adult yoga class at the Apex Community Center.

She was relieved to have the extra space. A full class, about 19 people, means there isn’t enough room for all the mats.

“Once you get on the floor and you are spreading your arms or swinging your legs, you can bump into people,” Sears said.

Space at the community center is an issue when it comes to scheduling senior programs, said Jessica Puckett, a recreation specialist for Apex.

The town’s population of adults age 55 and older grew from 1,660 to 4,697 between 2000 and 2010, according to U.S. Census data.

The Apex Community Center hosts programs for children, teens and other adults. With an influx of seniors, there’s not always room for everybody.

For the past two years, town leaders have considered building a senior center. Originally, they wanted to renovate the Tunstall House, which is on the town hall campus near the community center.

Now the Town Council is looking instead to expand the existing community center. Members were presented with several options, including a one-story or two-story design, and they leaned toward a two-story building that would have room for future growth.

The conceptual design includes 21,000 square feet of offices, classrooms, a library, three multipurpose rooms, a kitchen, art studio and conference room.

The senior center and community center would be connected by a fully enclosed walkway.

Apex expects to spend about $2.8 million on the senior center, according to the town’s facilities plan. But funding for the project hasn’t been discussed.

Councilman Gene Schulze said building the addition is a better option than renovating the Tunstall House.

“I feel like we were putting a round peg in a square hole,” he said.

Town leaders agree it’s time for seniors to have their own space.

“We’ve been spending money on youngsters,” Schulze said. “We need something for seniors, too.”

Councilwoman Nicole Dozier said she was excited to see the designs that were presented during the council’s annual planning retreat earlier this month.

Dozier, who works with seniors in her job as a healthcare advocate for the N.C. Justice Center, said she wants to see some space set aside for agencies and nonprofit services.

“I don’t see it as just an activity center but also a place to connect seniors to resources,” Dozier said.

Now the council must find a way to pay for it all.

“It’ll come to a head during the budget (process),” said Mayor Bill Sutton.

In the meantime, Apex is doing its best to meet the needs of seniors through creative scheduling. Most senior programs are held during the day, while programs for other demographics are in the evenings.

That means seniors who work during the day can’t participate.

Classes range from Pilates and Zumba to Bingo and floral design. The town also hosts health screenings, support groups, seminars and field trips.

 

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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