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Seniors weigh in on plans for a brand-new Largo Community Center

Lots more room, landscaped walking trails and comfy places to socialize and play games.

Those are a few things patrons can look forward to at the new Largo Community Center.

Last week, city leaders approved an early design for the center, which is a popular hangout for seniors.

The current 20,000-square-foot center at 65 Fourth St. NW is old, costly to run and a bit cramped for current programs, Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert said.

"Over the next few years, that building would probably require maintenance," Schubert said. "It doesn't make much sense to put money into the existing building."

The city plans to build a 30,000-square-foot center at 400 Alt. Keene Road, just north of East Bay Drive. It will be paid for with $10 million in Penny for Pinellas money.

The community center, which also houses the Tutterow Dance Program and activities for all ages, averages more than 200 patrons a day.

A number of people who hang out there don't care too much about the new facility or the extras that will come with it. They just like having a place where they can socialize, dance or play cards.

"New is always nice, as long as we have a place to play," said Helen Ludlow, 65, sizing up her pinochle hand.

Sitting with girlfriends at the center's weekly tea dance, Lena Wilson, 78, said she didn't see the need for a new center. "It seems like we have everything we need now."

But Phil Scott, who has been dancing at the center for nine years, looks forward to bigger, better digs.

"I think it will be great," said Scott, 89, before giving Winnie Luft, 84, a whirl around the dance floor.

Eileen Crowell, a seniors program specialist who also prepares meals for center functions, said a larger full-service kitchen will make it easier to cook more than 200 meals for popular monthly luncheons.

The city wants to redevelop the block where the community center now sits. Largo has been buying chunks of land near the center for years and plans to market them to a developer.

The new center is set to break ground in about six months and open in December 2010.

Seniors weigh in on plans for a brand-new Largo Community Center 06/20/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 20, 2009 12:53pm]
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