Patrons at Russell’s new senior center, scheduled for opening in about a month, will have plenty of room to spread out.
What used to be the sales floor of Rail City Hardware, crammed with tools, plumbing fixtures and electrical parts, is being transformed into a spacious open chamber for socializing, card playing and TV viewing.
Smaller rooms will be set aside for computers and a library.
“We’ve got so much space we don’t know what to do with it all,” said co-director Carolyn Buckholz.
Remodeling of the center is fast approaching completion, and co-directors Buckholz and Ruth Hopkins expect to start moving in the last week of April.
The bulk of the floor space will be left open, with tables and chairs set up as needed for the frequent daily card games; a flat-screen TV is on order and will be mounted on the wall.
Separate seating areas are planned for the front of the building, where the original plate-glass display windows will continue to bring in natural light and provide views of historic Bellefonte and Ferry Streets.
Benches that have long provided outdoor seating in front of the store will be returned at the completion of the project.
A large kitchen will be fully equipped for the meals served to patrons on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
An office space also will house computers for patron use; a separate library room will house the center’s growing book collection. “I think that’s what I’m excited about the most,” Hopkins said.
A side entrance has been added with an inside ramp to floor level; the ramp and the front entrance way will be covered with a rubberized surface. Both entrances and the entire facility meet standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are new handicap-accessible restrooms.
The building also has been re-roofed.
There will be 17 parking spaces in a side lot, three of them handicap spaces, and several spaces in a city lot less than a block away on Ferry Street will be dedicated to the center.
Possible later additions include a stage and piano.
The building exterior is to be painted later this spring either by volunteers or city workers, Mayor Bill Hopkins said. There is some talk of restoring the rail-themed mural that previously topped the building front.
The center received a $500,000 federal community development block grant to do the renovation of the city-owned building.
The center is moving there from its current quarters in the former train station, which also houses the city’s rail museum. The museum and its collection will stay put.
Tentative plans call for a grand opening in May.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2652.