Well, it's official. The Senior Center at St. Paul's has opened to the delight of village officials and senior residents alike. Garden City Mayor Gerard Lundquist cut the ribbon Aug. 24 and flocks of senior residents joined in the celebration.
Garden City Mayor Gerard Lundquist officially opened the Senior Center at St. Paul's Thursday morning, Aug. 24, to the delight of many Garden City residents. Photo by Carisa Keane
"I'm delighted it's finally come to fruition and we'll be able to use it," Afra Russo, a 30-year Garden City resident, said. Fellow senior and longtime village resident Mary Cahalin agreed: "I think it's absolutely gorgeous."
The center boasts a living room/seating area - complete with a fireplace, a kitchen, gathering/dining area, a bathroom and a playground area behind the center for anyone who'd like to spend the day there with their grandchildren.
According to Kevin Ocker, director of Garden City Recreational/Cultural Affairs, Cathedral Nursery School currently occupies five out of a total of eight cottages behind St. Paul's. The senior center makes up one cottage, leaving the village with two more cottages for possible expansion. "It makes sense to have some administrative offices for the Recreation Center here as well," Ocker said, also noting that an expansion of the new senior center could be possible as well in the future.
Mayor Lundquist praised Ocker and the Recreation Department for their vision. Ocker approached the board with his proposal, which included doing nearly all the work in-house and thus, placing no tax burden on village residents. "Through their efforts, it came to fruition," Mayor Lundquist said. "It provides additional space, which is so sorely needed."
Deputy Mayor Peter Bee, who did not attend the ribbon cutting, said in recent months that the center would certainly be a "marvelous addition" to Garden City. "As the liaison to the senior community, I am delighted and proud to have been a part of that process," he added.
Without the help of numerous volunteers from the community, Ocker said this project would not have been possible. The village wishes to especially acknowledge the donated professional services of Barbara Maiello Ruggiero, architect, P.C., who designed the center and assisted during the construction phase. "The people the village used to renovate the cottage did an excellent job," she said. "It came out better I think than anyone expected."
Resident Agnes Mathers offered her interior design expertise for the project; Anthony Pipitone of Renaissance Marble Works of New Hyde Park donated the counter tops; Treemendous Florist Ltd. graciously donated the floral arrangements and hand-painted murals were provided by Merry Agucce. "I see all the smiles on everyone's faces and that makes me happy," Mathers said at the grand opening.
Ocker would also like to thank the village recreation department staff, Wayne Viglietta, Peter Godfrey, Keith Jackowski, Sam Simone and Richard Stravino, who all coordinated and implemented a "very complex renovation plan."
The center is located on the Rockaway Avenue side of St. Paul's property. Village recreation department personnel will staff the center, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Resident seniors, aged 60 and older, are encouraged to use the new space for the center is equipped with board games, kitchen facilities, adequate parking, a television and piano, generously donated by a village resident, and a handicapped accessible restroom. The center is smoke free; all the recreation department's rules and regulations apply.