New West Knox Co. Senior Center opens
“This is awesome,” exclaimed Sybil Caywood, who attended a Stay Active and Independent for Life class in the afternoon. “It is just absolutely wonderful. It has different rooms for activities, and the parking is just phenomenal.”
Caywood said she had visited the previous location, Frank R. Strang Senior Center (along Lovell Heights Road just off of Kingston Pike east of Farragut) “just a few times,” admitting she was frustrated with the lack of parking.
“But I will sure be a regular here,” she added. “It is just so much bigger. I love it, and I’m so glad it’s here.”
Knox County Senior Services manager April Tomlin estimated the move gave the center “almost triple the space we did have.”
Darrell Gooding, coordinator for the new senior center, said he often had conversations with others in the department about “how we just needed one more room.
“Now we have so much room. It is so fresh, clean and large, and we will be able to offer even more programs,” he added.
Tomlin, Gooding and other staff and volunteers worked the weekend before Monday’s big opening, readying the facility that occupies the bottom floor of what was once Faith Lutheran Church.
“We are still waiting on some furniture and equipment, but it has been a great day,” Tomlin said. “We are open, and still getting settled, so we are asking folks to be patient. But we are so excited.
“We have had a lot of new people come through, and I have a feeling this place is just going to explode growth-wise,” she added.
Gene Desrosiers, who was playing Rummikub in the gaming room, said he, too, didn’t frequent the former location because of parking issues.
“But this place is very nice, and it has got quite a variety,” he said. “Plus, it’s closer to where I live.”
Monday also was a very happy day for 5th Distruct Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker, who saw five years of commitment finally pay off.
Schoonmaker was front and center when the facility opened, greeting staff and seniors alike as they flocked into the Center, which shares the building with Town of Farragut’s new Community Center, the upper floor, which will be up and running in March (see related story starting on page 1A).
The two entities share a middle-school sized gymnasium (with a freshly cured floor prohibiting its use for two to three weeks), a commercial kitchen and several restrooms.
“It’s exciting,” Schoonmaker said as he looked over the facility’s activity room, where the very first Senior Center class, advanced cardio, got under way at 8:45 a.m.
“This has been a long journey getting here, but from the beginning, my No. 1 goal was getting a new senior center,” he added.
About a dozen seniors took part in the cardio class, which was led by instructor Karen Kuhn.
“It’s a new week, new month, new year and a new place to get fit,” she announced to the class, then noted the cushy flooring in the activities room where they were meeting.
“It’s great and beats the heck out of that concrete and tile floor (at the Strang location),” she added.
Town of Farragut purchased the building for $2 million roughly 18 months ago, while Knox County paid for $2 million in renovations.
They split the cost of $500,000 in additional charges.
“This is just a great partnership between Farragut and Knox County,” Schoonmaker said. “At a certain time, everything just comes together, and this was one of those times.”
The Senior Center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and may be used by any Knox Coutian age 50 or older. For more information, or to view the current calendar of events, visit www.knoxcounty.org/seniors/west.php