Seniors welcome new rec center

CENTRAL GLENDALE — After more than a decade of project delays, hundreds of local seniors this week flocked to the new $7.92-million Adult Recreation Center.

Located at the corner of Colorado and Louise streets, the center opened its doors Monday — several months ahead of schedule and only 15 months after construction started.

The opening was a landmark for local seniors who long lobbied for a replacement to the aging and cramped single-story senior center that once stood near the Central Library. The City Council approved the construction contract last year, nearly 17 years after the project received $700,000 in seed money from Los Angeles County.

"The building was tolerable. We tolerated it for years," said Glendale resident Barbara Jean Ence, who had attended the old center since 2001. "But it was difficult; it took its toll on us."

Ence said there was "no comparison" between the old center and its replacement.

"We are extremely fortunate," she said.

More than 400 seniors have filed in each day since the opening to check out the new facility, officials said.

The new 18,400-square-foot facility features rooms for exercise and games, a dining area with a kitchen, multiple activity rooms, a multipurpose room for exercise classes and bingo. Multiple outdoor courtyards and landscaped areas provide an additional 15,000 square feet of space, officials said.

Demolition of the old center will begin Monday to open the area up even more, officials said.

Around 11 a.m. Friday, the center was packed as seniors waited for the county-sponsored lunch program. They also tried out the exercise machines and filled the various rooms to play cards and backgammon.

"We are doubling the space for increased capacity, and we are providing the users state-of-the-art equipment," said Community Services & Parks Director George Chapjian. "We plan on utilizing every square inch of the facility, including the patio areas for programming."

The building has a Craftsman-style design, with California and Spanish influences, including a stucco and simulated stone exterior with high ceilings, wood detailing and high windows.

"You get a lot of natural light," said Project Manager Hagop Kassabian. "It's a nice, open facility."

Still, some regulars said the new facility would take some getting used to.

"It's nice, but you get yourself used to having your regular place," said Glendale resident Olga Guevara, who took issue with the increased noise and farther distance between the dining area and restrooms.

"To people with wheelchairs or walkers, that's kind of inconvenient," she said.

Community Services Supervisor Julie Anne Leviant said the increased size and visibility has generated curiosity from regulars and prospective clients.

"A lot of people have been coming in to see what it is," she said.

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