Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Shovels turn earth, vision for center for baby boomers



Under an unseasonably warm morning sun, a handful of politicians, a group of advocates for the elderly, and several dozen senior citizens yesterday unveiled their vision for what was billed as a flagship senior center in South Toledo.

Certainly, the project with its hefty $5 million to $8 million price tag is far from funded. But that didn t stop Billie Johnson, head of the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, from beaming.

We wanted to get our view, our vision out there, she said, minutes after she joined several others for a photo opportunity, turning over a strategically placed pile of dirt with ribbon-adorned shovels.

It would be another step toward creating a 43-acre campus of service offices, recreational facilities, medical facilities, and even social opportunities for seniors at Detroit and Arlington avenues.

The 28,000-square-foot center announced yesterday would focus on keeping seniors active and healthy and replace the aging Margaret L. Hunt Senior Center just a few hundred yards away.

Eventually, the new facility could include a pool for arthritis therapy and other exercise, though the pool isn t included in the initial construction cost.

The current center serves about 30,000 seniors. With the population of Lucas County s seniors projected to be more than 90,000 by 2015, the old 22,000-square-foot space is cramped.

The baby boomers are coming, as everyone knows, Lynda Lisk, director of the Hunt Senior Center, told the more than 100 people who gathered for the event.

More than that, the current Area Office on Aging, a converted red brick nurses dormitory at the corner of the campus, needs renovation and more room.

Once the new senior center is complete, several of the agency s offices could be moved to the old senior center, officials said.

The new senior center would be attached to the current red brick Area Office on Aging headquarters and could be under construction as early as 2006 if fund-raising goes well, said Rey Boezi, a design consultant on the project.

The cost wasn t something they dwelled on during yesterday s news conference. But with just $1 million set aside in the county s senior citizens levy to pay for the project, officials acknowledged afterward that there s plenty of work to be done before the first brick is set in place.

The city of Toledo has sent aside $150,000 to help with site preparation, which includes moving utilities.

After that, officials hope to obtain federal and state grants to add to private donations. The remaining portion could be made up through a loan that eventually would be repaid by rent money from various senior programs that would be housed on the site.

Contact Robin Erb at: or 419-724-6133.

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