Stow Senior Center undergoes minor renovation during continued closure

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal
Stow Senior Center Program Assistant Cindy Cloud paints the office area of the converted home on April 28. The city's parks and recreation department is using the pandemic-related closure to make minor repairs to the senior center.
Stow Senior Center Recreation Supervisor Kathy Lewis paints the center's office area on April 28. The senior center has been closed throughout the pandemic, and there is no reopening date yet.
The freshly painted exterior of the Stow Senior Center on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 in Stow, Ohio.  [Phil Masturzo/ Beacon Journal]

While many local senior citizens have been vaccinated, the Stow Senior Center remains closed due to pandemic-related restrictions, and still has no official reopening date. 

"If you look around the area, a lot of senior centers haven't reopened because of health orders being so stringent, including testing our staff every few weeks, testing our participants if they're symptomatic, making sure everyone is registered and temperature checks," said Kathy Lewis, senior adult programs recreation supervisor. 

"There's no one that wants to reopen more than us, but we're waiting for those guidelines to loosen before we feel comfortable doing so." 

Parks and recreation director Linda Nahrstedt added that senior centers fall into a category similar to nursing homes, and that health orders are not guidelines, but rather requirements. Seniors have been gathering for Silver Sneakers classes in recreation centers, but those facilities fall into a different category. 

And even though many seniors are vaccinated, state health requirements on senior centers have yet to loosen.

"We do have seniors that are vaccinated, and we know they want to come to the center, but we can't ask people if they're vaccinated," Nahrstedt said

Also, because the senior center is a converted home, its capacity is "very limited," making events difficult to plan, Lewis said. 

The city is, however, taking advantage of the temporary closure by using the downtime for minor upgrades to the facility, including floor renovations, wall paint, exterior painting and landscaping. 

"It's not a brand new building, but I think our seniors will be happy with the improvements," Mayor John Pribonic said. "We used this time wisely, and they'll come back to something fresh and modern." 

Meanwhile, the parks and recreation department has been planning creative, outdoor, and socially distanced events to continue fostering a sense of community, such as drive-thru Thanksgiving, drive-thru pizza party, bingo, concerts in the park, cooking programs, and take-home craft kits. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.