Chesterfield senior citizens fight for place of their own

Posted at 6:23 PM, Mar 14, 2013

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) -- Some Chesterfield County senior citizens are fed up and they want the county to know it. They tell CBS 6 News they've been promised a senior center of their own for nearly ten years.

"We are tired of waiting for a place. We've been promised and promised and have a lot of hope. We've been hoping and waiting for a long time" Gloria Easterling said.

Thursday morning the group met with a few county leaders and told them they plan to hold leaders to their word.

On any given day the Chesterfield Senior Center on Stigall Drive is filled with young at heart faithfuls. The daily parking lot traffic jam tells the story. Folks like Addie Black and Harold Schulman show up in droves to kick up their heels line dancing with their favorite instructor.

"I need this exercise because it makes me more vibrant. Being 86 years old in May, I'll just have to sit around and I don't want to do that. That's why having a center like this is so important," Black explained.

"I"m 89 years old and this is the only exercise I get. I come here for yoga and for aerobics," Schulman added.

The senior citizens all say they've outgrown the space at the Church of Our Savior. The church allows the Chesterfield Senior Center to operate there and host daily activities such as yoga, sewing, line dancing and more.

"We're limited to our movement. You can't do the classes without bumping into somebody. One lady kicked a table the other day. We hit our hands on the chairs. We need space" Easterling said.

The seniors tell CBS 6 News they're all disappointed that a plan to build a brand new senior center in the now bankrupt SportsQuest complex has fizzled out.

That sports complex was auctioned off after the bankruptcy, purchased and is now operating as River City Sportsplex.

Seniors are even more upset that the county's proposed budget has no money in it for a senior center. "The problem is when you look at the plan for the county over the long-term, there's no mention of senior citizens. It's like we don't exist. Once the SportsQuest part of it went away, they seemed to have turned their backs on us" Darlene Cutts said.

They would now like county leaders to consider the old Clover Hill High School as a site or use the $315,000 from the Parks and Rec budget to lease vacant retail space.

Supervisor Steve Elswick attended Thursday's meeting along with Mike Golden, Parks and Rec Director.  Elswick explained that even though the $315,000 is in the Parks budget, it's one time money.

"Where does that replenishing money come from? That's the challenge that you have. It's easy to go ahead and use that money that's sitting to the side right now but when that runs out, they're not going away. We have to look beyond that," Elswick said.

He tells CBS 6 News it was important to meet with the senior citizens to hear their concerns.

"They're valid concerns. They've outgrown this place and want to know what can be done so they have a space that they can use. It's a good problem to have, but yes, their concerns are valid," Elswick added.

Elswick plans to take the concerns to his fellow supervisors and try to come up with a suitable solution. The senior citizens says they won't let up. They plan to pack the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors meeting on March 20 to talk face to face with the entire board.

CBS 6 News will continue to follow this story and bring you the very latest.