The Centre Region Senior Center will close in downtown State College by Aug. 31, and the search for new digs is already underway.
On April 23, the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority Board voted to accept a proposal from State College to waive the current lease with the center by Aug. 31, Parks and Recreation Program Manager Niki Tourscher told county commissioners Tuesday.
“For us, to keep those seniors coming, we knew we’d eventually have to relocate, which was in our heads for the end of the lease,” Tourscher said.
The lease was set to expire in 2017, she said, and the senior center wanted to have an amicable separation from the borough and begin looking for a new space due to transportation and accessibility concerns.
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A 15-month lane closure along Fraser Street started on May 22 to accommodate nearby Fraser Centre construction, she said, reducing the road in front of the center to only one lane.
Congestion in the Fraser Street parking garage is also expected once the center is completed, as 100 spaces will be designated for parking for the new building, Office of Aging Director J.R. Reed said.
A new tenant, whom she couldn’t name, came to the borough looking for space, Tourscher said. Because the senior center was looking to leave, they jumped at the opportunity.
“It ended up being a great situation where they found someone to take over the rent and we could escape,” she said. “Now it’s just a timeline to find a new home.”
The senior center provides food and activities for about 50 seniors a day, Tourscher said, depending on the season, and has been at 131 S. Fraser St. since 1986.
She said the center likely won’t have an official permanent home for a few months due to the short timeline, but other facilities can be used on a day-to-day basis. The center can join with other senior centers for a time, and most municipalities in the region offer space for community activities.
Transportation will still be provided to the seniors to get to these alternate locations, Tourscher said. Some drive, some ride a CATA bus, but a majority take advantage of the van service provided by the Centre County Office of Transportation.
The senior center is also under the challenge of finding a space with similar rent and low renovation costs, she said, as renovations have not been included in this year’s budget. They are looking for about 4,700 square feet of space, and could possibly find some funding through the Centre Region Council of Governments if renovation costs become an issue.
The seniors at the center have been very positive about the move, she said.
“It’s not going to be easy,” she said, “but we’re willing to make it work for all of our participants.”