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Center for Active Living to open Monday (with photos and video)

An outside look at the Center for Active Living2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- At 8 a.m. Monday, the Center for Active Living (CAL) will be officially open and a new era for senior activities will begin.

"I am really excited," CAL director Julia Seykora said. "It's a fresh start. It's a deserved situation. The moving around is over. It's a brand new building and a brand new attitude toward the whole thing.

"I think we'll have a lot of people who will come in and see the hard work that came to fruition and really appreciate what it's come to be."

The CAL, which is located on 11th Street, was able to use part of the former YMCA building.

"It's a beautiful facility," Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark said. "It's something without the repurposing that council advocated for and accomplished, we wouldn't have had near the size of facility that we see today.

"Folks have obviously seen what's transpired there on the site just by driving by, but the basement is large and very inviting," Clark continued. "It has a large amount of square footage, which is under the gym part essentially. We have pool tables and card-playing tables and potential for general-purpose expansion of programming."

The new expansion covers 2,800 square feet. The entire project cost slightly more than $1.1 million.

"When you walk in, hopefully you'll see the little reception area to your left," Seykora said. "The hope for the future is to grow a volunteer base of members or people around the community that would like to essentially be greeters and sit there for an hour or maybe two. You'll have someone to see when you walk in the front door; you're not just looking around and wondering what this place is about."

The new addition also features a kitchen.

"To the right, there is the catering kitchen, so every day there will be senior dining taking place there," Seykora said. "That will be nice -- that gives the members who are here the option to stay and have lunch, new members to come and have lunch ... current senior dining members can come in, and we would like to grown that program a lot more."

Seykora will have an office next to the reception area, with the building opening up to a large room.

"Essentially, when you walk in, you'll see the new addition, which is the multi-purpose room or the senior dining space, which is what we're mainly going to be using that room for right now," Seykora said. "It's set up to seat 60 people. We'll hope to have other programming in there as well, but for now it's fit for the senior dining."

There is a door that separates the new addition from the remodeled portion.

Immediately, there are new restroom facilities and an elevator to connect the two floors.

"There is an elevator to the basement, which is really nice," Seykora said. "You do have the option of taking the stairs if you wish. It's nice to see the people who are able to use the stairs, but the elevator is a nice addition.

"That brings you downstairs, which is the main senior center area," Seykora continued. "I'm deeming it the senior center area because right now that's where the pool tables are, and we have all the card tables and chairs and everything down there. That will be the day-to-day activities for the senior members."

The basement will feature pool tables and card-playing tables. There is a TV set up, and there is Wi-Fi access. There is also a unisex restroom in the basement.

"The space is so large that we could obviously have a lot more going on down there," Seykora said. "We have certain plans for some things to go on down there. We've had requests for certain programs.

"The dedicated senior space in the basement is very large, and I guess right now we'll just feel it out and see how it works. There are some ladies who will want to play upstairs, which is absolutely fine as long as it doesn't interfere with senior dining."

Above the basement are the existing gym and racquetball courts, which have all been updated.

"There are still the two existing racquetball courts," Seykora said. "The floors have been refinished. In the gym the floor has been refinished, and it looks really nice in there. There are all new lights and an all-new heating and cooling system.

"For now, we would like to have it available for people who need the gym space. But that would be for programs. We would need you to have it pre-planned and worked out with this facility."

The two racquetball courts will be available until 9 p.m. each night, while the gym will be a place for pickle ball games.

"We purposely called it the Center for Active Living because it's a multi-generational facility with a senior focus," Clark said. "We're not going to lose the focus on seniors, but being able to repurpose that gym and have racquetball available in our community is a positive."

There will be an open house later in April once things are settled.

"I'd encourage new folks to come and check it out," Clark said. "With the new facility, part of the objective was to push new programming. We were always handicapped by having a small facility, and how do you do programming if you don't have the space? We'll be advancing more programming with the city commitment.

"We want to make this a place for seniors to have fun."

The CAL is open to anyone ages 55-plus, and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

And with the new space dedicated to seniors, Seykora is already excited for the new possibilities.

"A lot of people were involved in getting it to this point," she said. "I hope everyone appreciates all the effort. I think it will go good. I think we'll have a lot of traffic in here.

"There's just going to be a lot of really good programming that will be offered here above and beyond playing cards and shooting pool."

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Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.