Wheeling studies new plan for senior services

  • Instructor Dora Baroti leads a salsa aerobics class at the Wheeling Park District Community Recreation Center in 2007. Wheeling is studying moving its senior center into the complex.

    Instructor Dora Baroti leads a salsa aerobics class at the Wheeling Park District Community Recreation Center in 2007. Wheeling is studying moving its senior center into the complex. Joe Lewnard | File photo

Published: 4/19/2009 12:05 AM

A marriage of resources integrating the village of Wheeling's Pavilion Senior Center into Wheeling Park District's Community Recreation Center could be in the offing, if both sides can come to a prenuptial agreement.

The park district and village boards recently reviewed the findings in a space study of the recreation center at 333 W. Dundee Road, within Wheeling's municipal complex.

The study shows the 76,215-square-foot recreation center, with some expansion, could fully accommodate its own uses and the village's senior services, presently housed in a 5,670-square-foot building at 199 N. First St.

The rec center houses most park district programs, including preschool classes, camps, arts and crafts, sports, and adult and youth classes. It also features an indoor walking/running track, gymnasium, Arctic Splash indoor pool and fitness center, amenities unavailable at the village senior center.

The village would likely lease space from the park district for its senior services, which include educational, social and recreational programs serving about 500 members.

"Our objective is to try to build a newer, better facility for the seniors," Village Manager Mark Rooney said. "Why duplicate services provided by the park district? We wouldn't have to build that kind of space in the village as it already exists."

Both entities still have to figure out how much building an addition to the recreation center would cost. No construction cost estimates were included in the feasibility study.

Presently, every part of the park district's recreation center is being utilized, though not to its full capacity, said Matt Wehby, director of park and recreation services.

"The CRC is empty more in the morning and midday when the senior center is more active," he said. "We have the space."

Wehby said from 8 a.m. until noon, the fitness center, pool and multipurpose rooms are moderately used. Between noon and 4 p.m., most of center is scarcely used. The building gets busy in the evening between 4 and 9 p.m. when it's usually at capacity.

Among the options recommended in the feasibility study is building a stand-alone senior center that would share some space with the recreation center. Another option involves moving the park district's administrative offices from the recreation center to accommodate the senior programs.

The recreation center presently houses the park district's administrative, recreation, finance and business departments and guest service operations on the first floor.

"They (the seniors) can't fit in this building for all the time they need without a build-out of some sort or something moving out," Wehby said.

If the seniors were to move in, they would have access to a free walking track, and could register for free classes or get memberships to the fitness center and pool, Wehby said.

"They don't have a dedicated gymnasium, workout equipment, water activities or a pool of any sort," Wehby said. "We are getting a lot of seniors who use our facility anyway."

The next step is for park district and village officials to get cost estimates so they can decide if it's a worthy union.

Incorporating the village's senior operations was only one component of the CRC study. It concluded the facility also needs bigger multipurpose rooms and a larger fitness center, Wehby said.