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The Orchard Park town board will consider building a community center for all ages, perhaps at Brush Mountain Park, as one solution to the senior citizens' center and recreation department's need for more space.
"That's one possibility. That's probably a strong possibility," said Councilman Michael Sherry of a potential center that would serve both departments
He spoke informally after the Wednesday Town Board meeting in anticipation of a recreation report presentation next week.
During a work session earlier Wednesday evening, he praised a senior citizen committee for its detailed presentation and report that asked for a new building with 27,725 square feet of space to replace the current cramped 7,000 square feet quarters in a former house on Linwood Avenue where about 2,454 seniors go each month to dine, exercise and socialize.
"It's a source of pride for the seniors to have a place in the community," said Anna Willems, director of the senior center.
Problems include too little parking, fitness classes on the floor where food fell during lunch and a pool table in a room so small that people bump the wall as they extend a cue to make a shot.
A narrow hallway leaves little room for wheelchairs and a steep staircase makes for an inefficient, hazardous exit in case of emergency.
"I think it would be almost impossible to evacuate the building in a timely fashion," said Tom Pieczynski, co-chairman of the Senior Task Force and a retired engineer with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In a presentation to the board, which will soon be posted on the town website, members of the task force used a color coded chart to list activities and their health benefits, such as Tai Chi class that helps with memory, fitness and "positive outlook."
They analyzed space needs by activity, such as 700 square feet for a billiard room, and four multi-purpose rooms with 1,600 square feet.
The senior center, they said, is also worth investing in because it is the hub of a network of people who look out for each other and who contribute through taxes, spending at local businesses and volunteering.
"We have been able to help people stay in the community and out of nursing homes," said Jackie Briggs, before telling a story about a woman who would forget to come have a $3 meal at the center.
"Everyday someone would call her and tell her it was time for lunch."
After the Recreation Department's presentation at a 6 p.m. work session next Wednesday, Sherry said the town will have an architect review the space needs and make a recommendation. "We want the best solution," he said.
Pieczynski said he was pleased by how receptive the board has been. "We have a town board that is not looking for obstacles, but is trying to get it done."