Giving Seniors a New Home

Giving Seniors a New Home

Residents to Vote on New Center

It has been almost three years since Barbara Kaylor first heard that the former school administration building in Leesburg was going to be unoccupied. Kaylor had been looking into a new location for the Leesburg Senior Center, when she heard about the empty North Street Building.

"I was talking about buildings to people in the county and I heard that the superintendent was moving out of the building," Kaylor said. "I knew it would be perfect for us."

Kaylor knew that if she was going to try and procure the building for the senior center she would need help, so she got together with fellow Leesburg Senior Center members Pat Harding and B.J. Pesi and formed a committee.

"We have been working three good years on this project," Kaylor said.

WHEN LOUDOUN COUNTY residents go to the polls Nov. 7, they will be asked to vote on whether the county should issue a bond worth a maximum of $9,330,000 to renovate the North Street Building. The North Street Building is under a 20-year lease to the county from the school system. Once renovated the building would be home to the new senior center as well as the Library Services administration offices.

"When the facility is renovated about 15,000 square feet will be used for the Leesburg Senior Center and 11,000 square feet will be used for the library administration," Sharon Hodges, from the capitol projects division of the county's Department of General Services, said.

The existing Leesburg Senior Center occupies 2,500 square feet.

"Right now we only have one big room for seniors to have both lunch and all their activities in," Harding said. "It doesn't hold very many seniors."

Lynn Reid, director of the Area Agency on Aging, said the current center is really more of an activities room, rather than a full-service facility.

"They are limited just by virtue of its size," she said.

While the size of the new Library Services administration offices will be almost equal to its current location, director Douglas Henderson said having a permanent office will save the county money.

"We're in rented space right now," he said. "[The county] pays about $400,000 in rent per year."

In the North Street Building, the library will have space for administration, processing and supporting services for the county's library branches, Henderson said.

"Also, if in the future they decide to move us again, that space is there to expand the senior center even more," he said.

BY MORE THAN quadrupling its size, the Leesburg Senior Center would have even more to offer the county's senior citizens. The proposed center, which is in the design stages, will include an exercise room for aerobic classes, a weight room, an arts and crafts room, a ceramics room, a computer room, a library, club room, game room and several multi-purpose meeting rooms. The main room, Reid said, will look like an upscale hotel ballroom, which will available for special parties, such as weddings or guest speakers.

"It will open up many, many more opportunities for the seniors," she said. "It is really going to be beautiful, according to the architect."

While Kaylor began looking for a larger space soon after the Leesburg Senior Center opened, both she and Harding say they enjoy the location they are in, but want the larger space so they can offer more to the county's seniors.

"Up there we will have separate rooms for everything," Harding said. "Now we have the pool table in the lobby. And if people want to sit and have coffee and talk, they have to do that in the lobby."

Reid said the new senior center will also help promote senior activities in the county.

"We want to attract younger seniors," she said. "Right now the average age is 70 to 75. We want to do what we can to attract the younger people as well."

"The baby boomers are coming along," Kaylor said, "and they are going to be able to get a lot out of this."

IF APPROVED, the new senior center is expected to be opened something around fall 2008, Hodges said.

"There is no way to predict how the process will go," she said.

During the renovation, the building will be completely gutted, Reid said, leaving only the outside of the structure as it is.

"They are trying to bring back what was underneath," she said of the restoration of the old building. "They're going to uncover the ceiling. The long windows that have been partially covered up are going to be uncovered. It is really going to be sunny and bright."

In addition to the inside, the landscaping of the property is going to be extensively overhauled.

"There are going to be lots of opportunities for walking," Harding said. "If someone wants to go outside, they are going to be able to."

For their part, Harding and Kaylor have been talking to residents about the importance of the renovation to the county's senior citizen community.

"We're positive," Harding said. "We're not thinking negatively about Nov. 7."

Both women said other seniors have gotten excited about the renovation projects and supporting the bond question.

"They know if the bond money goes through they will have a place to go," Harding said.

"This is going to be a real upgrade," Kaylor said. "This is going to be something great for Leesburg and for the county."