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Many happy with senior center at Western Maryland Hospital Center

'We just want the convenience of having our own space'

October 24, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • The former U.S. Army Reserve facility is now being talked about as a possible new location for the permanent senior center.
By Caleb Calhoun, Staff Writer

Until a permanent center is built, senior citizens will move from the temporary center they’ve been using to one that will have space they won’t have to share.

The temporary center is currently at Girls Inc., but is scheduled to move to a section of the Western Maryland Hospital Center on Pennsylvania Avenue at the end of June 2013. When it does, the 1,194 active registered members of the senior center will have their own dedicated space, Washington County Commission on Aging Executive Director Susan MacDonald said Wednesday.

Members at the center voiced their approval of the move Wednesday.

“The bus service is right there and they have a bigger parking lot,” Hagerstown resident Dee Reichmeider, 63, said. “We just want the convenience of having our own space.”

The new space has its own hallway with multiple rooms, MacDonald said. Currently, the members share two classrooms, an activities room and a gym at the Girls Inc. of Washington County building at 626 Washington Ave. in Hagerstown.

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“The Western Maryland Hospital Center has large rooms, an art room, will provide them with a lounge, and ... outdoor space,” MacDonald said. “This is really the next step since there won’t be a permanent center for a while. Seniors want and deserve a place of their own.”

After reports that the first round of bids for a permanent center at Hagerstown Community College came in over budget and that the Washington County Board of Commissioners was considering the former U.S. Army Reserve facility in Hagerstown, senior center member Roseanne Grimm, 72, of Hagerstown, said the location would be fine for her as long as parking was available.

“Instead of wasting money building something, it shouldn’t cost as much to renovate an existing building,” she said.

Rebecca Montgomery of Smithsburg, an art and jewelry gemstone instructor at the center, said that she liked the idea of the center being at HCC and found the budget problems for building it there “troubling.”

“I don’t see why Washington County can’t provide enough funding for a senior center,” she said. “If Greencastle can afford a senior center, why can’t Hagerstown? The Western Maryland Hospital Center is a temporary situation again so we’re back in the Band-Aid situation.”

Virginia Neisser, 69, of Maugansville, said that she would be fine with the Western Maryland Hospital Center being the permanent location as long as members have their own space.

“It has parking and elevators,” she said. “I don’t want it at HCC because it’s too far of a ride, and I don’t want it near downtown.”

The senior center has been in the Girls Inc. building since September 2008. The former U.S. Army Reserve facility is at least the fourth site mentioned as a possibility for a permanent senior center, MacDonald said.

In addition to HCC, the Aspiring to Serve Community Center at 140 W. Franklin St. and the former Richardson’s Restaurant on Dual Highway were also mentioned as possible locations.

Eleanor Funk of Maugansville suggested a location at the corner of Mitchell Avenue and Burhans Boulevard for the center, but said she likes the Western Maryland Hospital Center for a temporary location.

“There’s a lot of parking there, and it’s safe,” she said. “It’s a big facility and a nice area.”

The price for the space at the hospital will be $1 per year, according to MacDonald, and housekeeping and utilities could cost up to $20,000 per year. Currently, $134,000 is paid to Girls, Inc. for the space there.

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