New lounge for senior center users

The Eden Prairie Senior Center has just completed a remodeling project when “very active seniors are coming out of the woodwork,” says Sue Bohnsack, director of the city-run facility at 8950 Eden Prairie Road.

For the upstairs development, contractors tore down office walls to create what Bohnsack describes as a more open and welcoming social space for older adults, who can spontaneously gather in groups of two, three, or four. There are plush armchairs, a fireplace, and a TV to keep it cozy, and coffee and other refreshments are right across the room.

It was designed with a new breed of senior center user in mind: someone who would rather meet up with a few friends than join a larger, organized class or group that meets regularly to play bridge or catch up on current events to discuss.

Not that these larger, programmed activities are going away. In fact, Bohnsack says, senior center visits are doubling with each new month, so total visits in 2022 are likely to surpass the pre-COVID-19 benchmark of 32,000 visits per year. This is happening as COVID-19 loosens its grip and older adults feel more comfortable gathering in groups for increasingly intense activities, such as Take a city-sponsored trip to nearby iFly, an indoor skydiving simulation.

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In contrast, the new fireplace lounge offers space for unplanned and more intimate gatherings, such as B. Two older adults who wish to meet before or after an organized senior center event or before a game on the outdoor pickleball courts.

The open space is located immediately inside the main entrance of the center, which has a long history dating back to the 1970s when it served as City Hall and later as the school district’s family center. Where there were once hard walls, interior windows, and a narrow hallway, is the large, open space with the new seating, fireplace, and mini-kitchen.

This is the center’s first remodel since some water leaks in recent years. The latest project was funded largely with $25,000 from an anonymous donor and $45,700 from the estate of the late Jeffrey Kirst, an Eden Prairie resident who contributed to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department through the Eden Prairie Community Foundation, which he also supported, left a legacy.

The senior center is usually open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It can also be rented at other times. For more information about the senior center, visit the city’s website.

Mark Weber is the Executive Director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation referenced in this article.

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