- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - Fort Collins officials are contemplating taking the “senior” out of the city’s Senior Center.

As the popular center undergoes a major renovation, the city recreation department is exploring options for rebranding the facility in hopes of making it more attractive to a younger crowd.

Programming at the center would be targeted to residents aged 50 and older, as it always has been, said Marty Heffernan, director of community services for the city. But giving the expanded facility a different name could change its image with members of the baby-boom generation and other aging adults who don’t consider themselves seniors, he said. The center is open for anyone age 18 and older to use.

“Some people think it’s a nursing home or an assisted living center, and that’s not good,” Heffernan said.

An education center aimed at attracting young people and seniors will include a 120-seat high-tech auditorium for classes and presentations.

Some seniors who are longtime users of the center oppose changing the name. The facility fills a need for senior residents who otherwise would be sitting at home alone, said Shirley Nordholm.

A different name wouldn’t change the place, Nordholm said, but there’s no need to change the name.

“I was 50-some years old when I started,” she said. “It didn’t bother me one bit being called a senior.”

The center opened in 1995. In 2003, voters approved an expansion of the facility as part of a capital improvement program.

The 17,000-square-foot renovation will include additional space for exercising, wellness programming and socializing.

There are also areas for socializing and leisure activities such as billiards.

Linda Daniel, a longtime user of the center, initially opposed to changing the name, but changed her mind.

“I think it’s a really good idea to bring more people in between the ages 50 to 65,” she said.

The word “senior” has several connotations and should not be considered negative, said Michael Morgan as he worked on a large jigsaw puzzle.

A name change is not a done deal. Heffernan said the city would conduct a public process for discussing the idea and debating names before moving forward with any proposal.

Public sessions at which Mayor Karen Weitkunat and possibly other City Council members would discuss the matter with residents are expected to be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Recreation department staff members have not come up with a name they support.

Nordholm said she just doesn’t see why people have problems with the “senior” label.

“They don’t want to be called ‘senior,’ but they will take the discounts,” Nordholm said.


Information from: Fort Collins Coloradoan, https://www.coloradoan.com

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