Senior Center closing, sold for development
BLUE ASH, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) - At the end of March 2016, the Sycamore Senior Center in Blue Ash will close its doors.
It's one of the few recreation centers in the area dedicated specifically to senior citizens and its loss is sending shock waves through their community. For hundreds of senior citizens from 18 surrounding communities, the senior center is the social center of their entire universe. So the question is, when the place closes, what happens to them?
About 400 seniors use the center at least a couple of times every week for everything from exercise and dance classes, to a hot meal; which for some is the only one they'll eat all day. More than anything they get camaraderie.
Member Gail Scully told Local 12, "I've joined the friendship group from here. We go see movies, plays, go to eat, oh do we eat. We love to eat."
When members got word the center will close at the end of March, they began to worry. While staffers scramble to find other programs for the members at different locations, many remain optimistic.
Sherry Goldfon's been going for less than a year, "It's gonna be hard but it's gonna be fun too. It's gonna be a challenge ... Exciting something to do."
Megan Ulrich from Maple Knoll said, "So what we're saying is, we understand. Let us help you through this transition. Let's find out what activities you like at Sycamore and let's really decide where you want to go to them and see what your options are so you're not losing that activity, those friends and that social-ness that you really need to remain independent and happy."
Maple Knoll, the owners of the property, sold it for development and the reason was simple - money. The facility consistently costs and uses more than it brings in, going more than $152,000 in the hole over the previous nine months. Two million dollars over the last 10 years. And with state medicare/medicaid cuts, the owners had to cut their losses.
Concerned member Allen Haines said, "We didn't know there was a problem. We have an annual fundraiser here where they ask for donations to help make up any deficits, make up the difference between the revenues and what the actual expenses are. The membership for the most part thought we were meeting that goal."
But they were wrong.
All of the staff members at the senior center have been offered jobs at other Maple Knoll facilities. Programs like Meals On Wheels and transportation services will continue for the Sycamore members. A meeting will be held Wednesday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the center to give members a chance to ask questions and connect with other facilities.