The project adds 5,388 square feet to the existing 5,014-square-foot senior center, which was built in 2003.
Seniors were moved to Chinook Middle School this summer while the center’s kitchen and some rooms were updated, but most moved back this fall.
The center’s Services to At-Risk-Seniors (STARS) program is being held at River Ridge Covenant Church off Steilacoom Road until construction is complete.
The center’s staffers and members are impressed with the work.
“It’s serving them better because there is more space available to them,” said Kate Green, manager of the senior center. “Particularly with our new classroom that has really strong lights in it for our woodcarvers so they can see really well in there.”
The center opened with 360 members in 2003. Membership has grown to 1,600, causing overcrowding and deterring new potential members, leaders say.
The new addition has been constructed and will be watertight as of this week, according to Lori Flemm, Lacey Parks and Recreation director.
Seniors are using the original portion of the building and have learned to adjust to construction noise. Contractor Jones and Roberts Co. has been working with the seniors by coming in early, during times with fewer activities and classes, or when the center is closed, Flemm said.
The noise has spawned a few jokes around the center.
“Termites are busy this morning,” said Jim Knapp, a center visitor for the past five years. “You hear them, but you don’t see them.”
The senior center holds a special place in Knapp’s heart. It’s where he met and married his wife, Judy Lensgrave, in 2007, shortly after becoming a member.
It was a whirlwind romance.
“I discovered you have to have a companion to live, as far as I am concerned,” Knapp said.
Knapp admits he had reservations about the project when it was proposed – especially the cost.
“I thought maybe it was spending too much money, but gee whiz, it’s a lot nicer,” he said.
Construction equipment and cramped parking have been obstacles, but they didn’t hamper last weekend’s semiannual rummage sale.
The center raised $1,400 for senior services Saturday, as well as $100 toward its building fund.
The center even had the help of some Chinook Middle School students.
“Everything went well – the same it always goes,” Greene said. “We had lots of people show up early and buy all the stuff that gets donated; that was great.”