Senior Center buys former U.S. Silica offices
The dream of a new Berkeley Springs senior center is coming true with Senior Life Services of Morgan County’s purchase of the former U.S. Silica corporate headquarters.
The closing for the building and its 6.6 acres off U.S. Route 522 took place on Monday, January 30, said Senior Life Services executive director Joel Tuttle. The purchase price was $1.4 million.
Senior Life Services was approved for a 35-year loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Rural Development Department, he said.
The main floor of the
handicapped-accessible building is 27,000 square feet. It has an inside courtyard. The concrete block basement is 14,000 square feet and will be used for storage. Their current facility is 10,000 square feet.
They won’t be completely moving into the new facility until after a commercial kitchen is installed sometime this summer. U.S. Silica has leased the entire building through February and has also leased the server
room – where the kitchen will be – through June, Tuttle said.
Office staff will move into the new building by April, but activities and kitchen staff will remain at the current senior center until the kitchen is finished. Tuttle estimated that the new senior center could be open by late summer.
Tuttle said he was elated about the deal going through to buy the building.
“It’s something we’ve been working on since around 2005,” he said of finding a new site.
They had looked at other options including constructing a new building, but decided it would cost too much just to build the same size facility as they have now.
The new senior center facility will have offices for everyone and the offices will be about 50% larger. There will also be an auxiliary office for guest agency representatives to work from when visiting, Tuttle said.
The senior center will have their own conference room and space to do the 32-hour training for personal care aides. They do all of the training onsite and don’t really have space for it now, Tuttle said. They have 90 employees and around 70 of them are home care aides.
There will be a room for crafts, a room for computers and also an exercise room. When they want to hold different activities now, they have to move tables and chairs around, he said. There will also be a sitting area with a TV lounge, which they currently don’t have.
The main congregate area where seniors eat lunch and play bingo will be about 20% larger than what it is now and will be one large area.
Lots of parking
The new senior center site has around 150 parking spaces and no hill, he said. Right now they only have 12 parking spaces, which has been an issue since a lot of seniors drive to the center. Tuttle said he has no idea where everyone parks on days when they have their home health aide trainings.
They plan on using only around 15,000 square feet of the building. U.S. Silica is going to lease a portion of office space to keep some of their people there, he said. Other space will be available for rent.
Staff and seniors are excited about the coming move to a larger facility. They anticipate having a lot more people at the senior center, Tuttle said.
About 15 to 17 employees are at the Berkeley Springs Senior Center at a time, plus the seniors. On an average, they have around 45 seniors at the center every day, with about 30 of them eating lunch there, he said. They also have Meals on Wheels for homebound seniors.