Northfield Center, Northfield Village, Sagamore Hills plan weekly senior center at Epiphany Lutheran

by Eric Marotta & Jeff Saunders REPORTER and Editor Published:

Northfield Center -- Pending final approval of three communities, senior citizens will have a place to go five days a week.

Officials from Northfield Village, Northfield Center and Sagamore Hills agreed to rent a meeting room at Epiphany Lutheran Church for seniors to use one day per week for a six-month trial period, starting Jan. 2.

This comes after Macedonia Mayor Don Kuchta proposed opening up the community room in Macedonia City Hall to seniors on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday.

Village Mayor Jesse Nehez, Northfield Center Trustees Richard Reville and Paul Buescher and Sagamore Hills Trustee John Zaccardelli met with about 50 people who attended an open house featuring the meeting room at the church Dec. 1.

The officials, together with village Counselors Karen Selle and John Schlueter, said the turnout made it clear enough people were interested in the proposal.

"We are very pleased with the turnout and excited to move forward," Nehez said.

"It's absolutely amazing," Zaccardelli said of the turnout. "The interest is definitely there."

Zaccardelli said fellow trustees are likely to agree before year's end to help the village and Northfield Center pay the $4,500 rent the church is charging for the six-month period.

Each community will pay $1,500, if all three agree to participate.

Nehez said he would bring the proposal to village Council Dec. 12. Buescher and Reville said they expected to approve the proposal at their Dec. 3 meeting.

The proposal came as an alternative to one made by Kuchta earlier this year. He asked the three communities to join the city in renovating the former city hall on Valley View Road. But officials said the $200,000 price tag was too much and Zaccardelli proposed renting the church meeting room one day per week instead.

Kuchta later decided to open the community room in the Macedonia City Hall basement for use by seniors and has directed the parks and recreation department to work on expanding programming for senior citizens. While the Macedonia facility seats 120, it is not available on Wednesdays, when the Summit County Women, Infants and Children program uses the room.

The Epiphany Lutheran meeting room seats 370 and would be open on Wednesdays.

Hours for the Epiphany center, like Macedonia's senior center, would be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Rev. Christian Just, the church's pastor, said he sees his building as an asset to the community.

"I'm pleased we'll have the opportunity to see how we can make this a valuable asset to the community. That's partly why we built this facility," he said. "I'm very pleased by the turnout here and that the public officials were as enthusiastic as they were," Just said.

Church treasurer Bill Lupica, said the room will have two Wii gaming systems and will have wireless Internet access.

Many at the Dec. 1 open house said they like the church facility, even though it would not be a full-fledged senior center.

"Maple Heights has one, Twinsburg has one, we should have one," said Sagamore Hills resident Pauline Kubic.

Frank Gambosi, of AARP Chapter 5330 said he is pleased with the township and village efforts, but added he has not seen the meeting room in Macedonia.

"I think it's a great thing for the Nordonia community," he said. "I just hope one or the other will work out."

Sagamore Hills Township Administrator Paul Schweikert said the rental fee includes the cost of a fitness instructor, who he said may be able to offer a weekly program.

Schweikert said he is looking into developing other programs to benefit those who might drop by the room each week.

"We decided to see what it's about. It's a fabulous facility," said Sagamore Hills resident Jackie Wigand, who attended with her husband, Bill.

E-mail: emarotta@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9433

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