by Jeff Saunders | Reporter
Macedonia -- The area now has a senior center, sooner than previously expected.
Mayor Don Kuchta announced at City Council's Nov. 9 meeting that the city will open up the City Center's basement community room as a senior center this week.
"There will be no charge for seniors, no matter which Nordonia community they come from," said Kuchta.
For the past several months, Kuchta had been proposing other area communities and the city join together to fix up the former city hall next to the present city hall on Valley View Road. The building, now vacant, is owned by Summit County.
Other communities balked at the suggestion due to renovation and utility costs and have been considering pitching in to reserve a meeting room at Epiphany Lutheran Church one day per week.
Macedonia resident Earlene Savary, who as president of Nordonia Hills AARP Chapter 5330 last year proposed using the former city hall, said she was pleased with Kuchta's decision, but still hopes that there will someday be a dedicated senior center facility.
"I think it's a start. I don't want them to start and finish there," said Savary Nov. 12. "My big goal is to have a nice center like Twinsburg and Solon and other communities have."
"I'm all for Macedonia standing on its own," she added.
Kuchta said that beginning this week, seniors can use the room most weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on days when the room is used for other purposes.
This includes the third Thursday of the month starting in January, when the room will be used by the Silverdonians, a separate senior program for Macedonia residents, and on Wednesdays, when the room will be leased by Women, Infants and Children, a nutritional program.
"If anybody wants to use the room, there's tables and chairs in there and a coffee pot," Kuchta said Nov. 12.
Kuchta said seniors will need to provide their own food and beverages, but will be allowed to use the kitchen next to the community room, which has recently been recarpeted and painted and can hold as many as 120 people.
He said there will be some costs to the city, primarily utilities, but believes he can cover the costs out of the mayor's office budget.
He said Parks and Recreation Director Angela Gmerek will be meeting with representatives of area senior groups to begin planning an expansion of programs for senior citizens.
Also, Kuchta said he expects a television will be donated and a second television from the recreation center is expected to be fixed up for use as a gaming system with the donation of a Nintendo Wii.
"I know seniors love to play games on the Wii," he said.
Kuchta said he is hoping that the center will be able to offer free programs like crafting classes, donated by area businesses, and information on programs of interest to seniors offered in the area.
"We will concentrate on including as much on this effort as we can," he said. "This will be something the seniors can use quickly. The community room is there."
Most of all, he said, it will be a place for seniors to meet and socialize.
"This is something they've been waiting for for a long time," he said. "Macedonia cares about its seniors and we want to do everything we can."
In August and September, Kuchta spoke to Northfield Center, Northfield Village and Sagamore Hills officials about joining forces in creating a senior center in the former city hall.
Kuchta said repairs, including a new roof and carpeting, would cost at least $200,000. Utility costs are estimated at roughly $30,000 annually, with unspecified additional operating expenses including maintenance and staff.
Citing lower costs, officials in Northfield Center, Northfield Village and Sagamore Hills have said they prefer an alternate proposal of leasing the church's 5,000-square-foot hall, which also includes a kitchen and, according to the church's website, can hold up to 370 people.
A tour of the facility by area seniors groups and local officials is scheduled for Dec. 1.