TYRONE - Some area residents are not happy with proposed changes to the Northern Blair Senior Center, but its owner said it is making improvements to attract more residents.
The 505 Third St. location has been closed since June, Blair Senior Services Inc. administrative services manager Mike Smith said Tuesday.
The organization recently obtained permits and a 45-day contract to renovate, including adding a computer lab and rooms for fitness and arts and crafts, Smith said.
Mirror photo by Amanda Gabeletto
The Northern Blair Senior Center in Tyrone will undergo renovations, which upsets some local residents.
Smith estimated the changes would be completed by late August.
Regular center visitors Virgie Werner and Miriam McClain are circulating a petition in opposition of the changes.
As of Tuesday, those opposing the change had collected 218 names.
The petition states the renovations are an "unnecessary expenditure" of taxpayer money, but McClain said she did not know for sure it was taxpayer money. She said it was grant money, which is usually taxpayer money.
It's "not private funds," she said.
Further comment on the project financing from Blair Senior Services was not available later Tuesday. Smith said the Altoona center was updated in the last couple of years and is a model for what officials want to do in Tyrone.
The $378,000 Altoona project, which included an addition, was financed through an Aging Block Grant, state program income and the Blair Senior Fund, a charitable trust, the agency said in June 2011.
Attendance at the Altoona center has increased since the renovations took place, Smith said.
McClain said opponents are sending the petition to Gov. Tom Corbett, other elected officials and the Blair County commissioners.
A petition will not change the plans, Smith said. The contract was awarded, and construction is set to begin.
The owners are thinking of the future seniors who will utilize the center, Werner said.
McClain said residents do not want to lose square footage used for dinner dances and exercise classes. She said the floor space would go from 5,000 square feet to 3,500 square feet.
Of the 8,000-square-foot building, 1,800 square feet are affected by the renovations, leaving 6,200 square feet, Smith said.
It would allow for "plenty of space" leftover, he said.
A platform that bands would play on was torn out, Werner said. It was an Eagle Scout project, she said.
Area residents were not notified of the major changes, she said.
They were told what was going to happen, Smith said. There are 4,500 potential center users in the area, and they are doing what they think is best for the overall population, he said.
In the meantime, seniors are using a room donated at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Werner said. Those wanting lunch and families who usually collect a monthly care package at the center have to go to the Altoona center, she said.
Werner said they want the space left as is, and they are happy. A paint job is needed and a bathroom upgrade, though.
"We don't need a lot of little rooms," she said. "All of us like it."