Post and Courier
November 26, 2014

North Charleston receives grant to build senior center

Posted: 06/10/2014 12:01 a.m.


By Amanda Coyne

North Charleston seniors will soon be doing water aerobics and sweating to the oldies in a center all their own.

The city has received a $350,000 grant from the lieutenant governor's office to build its first senior center, expected to open in late 2015.

North Charleston currently offers programming for seniors at its 21 community centers, but does not have a dedicated senior center.

The new center has been estimated to cost roughly $2 million and will be paid for with the grant and city bonds. It will be built on Dorchester Road, next to North Charleston Fire Station 5, on land donated by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.

The senior center will include a pool, workout facilities and areas for social and educational events, city spokesman Ryan Johnson said. Once the center is done, he said, the city hopes to build a second one.

The city looked at its senior programs and other area senior centers when planning the new center, Johnson said. Lowcountry Senior Center on James Island, which opened in 2002, offers programs including foreign policy discussion groups, Zumba fitness and a Wine Club.

"With aging, the key is that you use it or you lose it. The goal with our programming is to help people stay engaged in whatever they want to stay engaged in," said Elizabeth Bernat, executive director of the center. "Line dancing, for example, engages your memory, but it's also physical, so you can stay in shape."

The grant comes at an opportune time for North Charleston, where the population has grown significantly in recent years. Its senior and baby boomer populations are no different. Total population growth between 2000 and 2010 was 22.4 percent, according to the U.S. Census. While the growth of the 65-and-over population was on par, coming in at 23 percent, the population of North Charleston residents between 45 and 64 boomed by 53 percent. Other local senior centers serve residents 50 and older.

"Baby boomers are retiring, and that's a huge population sector we'll be able to serve," Johnson said.

With that growth, the city has been considering the addition of a senior center for several years, Johnson said, and this grant will help jump-start the process.

Reach Amanda Coyne at 937-5592 or on Twitter at @AmandaCCoyne.