OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Ground was broken to begin the construction of the newest Senior Health and Wellness Center in Oklahoma City, this time on the east side.
At the construction site at N.E. 36th and Lincoln Tuesday, a senior line dance group from the Lincoln Park Senior Center bracketed the event with a smooth flow of dancing showing experience in keeping active.
But, along with a host of other Ward 7 dignitaries, it showed a solid base of support for the center even before it is built.
“I want to personally commend our seniors because what you see around you would not have taken place had it not been for our seniors advocating on their own behalf of where they wanted their senior center to be located,” said Ward 7 Oklahoma City Council member Nikki Nice.
The newest of the MAPS 3 Senior Health and Wellness Centers will be on the same campus as the new Homeland Grocery already taking shape on the same site. The two facilities will share the same parking lot.
Each of the centers has an organization that is the operator. This one on the east side will be operated by the YMCA and Langston University.
Langston is Oklahoma’s enduring historically Black college with its main campus just east of Stillwater but with a thriving satellite facility on the campus of Millwood Public Schools near I-44 and Martin Luther King in northeast Oklahoma City.
The commitment to operating the facility with the YMCA represents a deeper investment in the metro by Langston.
“Obviously, this will be a very unique facility and it will meet the needs of the community,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt.
He pointed out that this particular project would be unique in that it would be a part of a larger campus with the new Homeland grocery intended to address the food needs of people in the same area.
(See the gallery at the end for more images of the day.)
Solid base of support
There were strong signs that the center will be opening with a solid base of support.
Nice told about contact she had early in her time as a City Council member.
“As soon as I was elected in November of 18, I got a phone call from some seniors,” said Nice to laughs from the crowd. “And they said, Nikki, we want to talk to you. And I said, Okay, and they immediately said, we want to be the ones who pick where our senior center’s going to be located. So with that, we immediately went to work.”
Nice said that group worked on what they thought would be the best sites and loaded up on busses to go see the other two sites already in operation so they could get some better ideas about what they wanted to see.
“So, with that, we always knew our senior centers would be successful,” said Nice. “And nothing prepared us for what our community has already experienced with the first and the second Wellness Center with memberships are passing expectations.”
Nice said that the 44,810 square foot wellness center would “be the catalyst for this neighborhood.”
“It’s no secret that people’s physical and mental health improves with exercise and community support and our goal is not only to build a building, but also nurture a support system of friends,” Nice added.
With Langston University taking on being one of the operators with the YMCA the connection to the metro becomes even stronger.
Langston’s President, Dr Kevin Smith, expressed his excitement about the possibilities of their involvement with the center because of the hands-on placement they would get to have with the seniors there and the benefits the seniors would have from the contact.
“We have the number one school of physical therapy in the state of Oklahoma,” said Smith. “We have one of the top nursing programs in the State of Oklahoma, and we have one of the top recreation, health and wellness programs in the State of Oklahoma.”
Smith told about former Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis’ effort to get Langston connected to the planned senior center. He gave Pettis credit for helping convince Langston to make the commitment.
“So, what better way than to put northeast Oklahoma City – which has given so much historically to Langston University than to give back to the community by supporting a senior wellness center and giving directly to our seniors.”
Kelly Kay, President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City praised Langston staff and City of Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt as well as Counselor Nice for pulling together the project.
He told about the impact of the partnerships that have made the Lincoln Park Senior Center such a successful collaboration since 1983.
The building belongs to OKC Parks and Rec and several local agencies have been brought in to assist seniors with many aspects of their lives including nutrition by providing meals.
“Two of our main focuses at the Y are healthy living and social responsibility,” said Kay. “This new center will join these two impact areas in a unique and exciting way. And naturally, our members could not be more excited than what you’ve heard today. It’s exciting to see our members continue to serve and our Y continue to serve our community in these ways and our members to be part of something bigger than themselves.”
Kay added, “This new facility will allow us to serve northeast Oklahoma City Community like never before. And that’s what the Y does better than anything.”
One of five
When complete, the center will be the third of the MAPS 3 Senior Health and Wellness Centers designed to promote health for seniors across Oklahoma City.
One is on the northwest side at 11501 N Rockwell Avenue operated by Healthy Living and Fitness, and the other is the Pete White Health and Wellness Center at 4021 S Walker Avenue near the Capitol Hill area.
The fourth is being designed now and will be located on Western Avenue south of SW 134th Street, operated by the YMCA. MAPS 4 includes the future fifth Senior Health and Wellness Center, plus a scholarship fund for low-income seniors using the senior centers.
Tom McDaniel has been the chair of the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board for many years and has been instrumental in shepherding projects to completion by promoting collaboration across many lines in the life of the city.
MAPS 3 is a $777 million, voter-approved capital improvement program to improve the quality of life in Oklahoma City. It is funded by a temporary 1-cent sales tax that began in April 2010 and ended in December 2017. MAPS 3 funds eight projects: Downtown Convention Center, Downtown Public Park, Modern Streetcar/Transit, Oklahoma River Improvements, Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Improvements, Senior Health and Wellness Centers, Trails and Sidewalks.
(Click on any photo for higher quality images.)
Last Updated May 5, 2021, 11:20 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor