Facility Profile - April 2006
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Handy Solution

Cicero Senior Center
Cicero, Ill.

By Deborah Meyer Abbs

Besides the three main areas in the facility, it also has a vestibule, entryway, restrooms, storage and office space. The décor includes natural tones as well as purple and yellow.

"The really nice thing inside is that is has a lot of color, texture and patterns, and it makes you feel good," says Atilano says of the design choices.

Use of the facility is free for residents 62 and older, and the center is just part of a plethora of services offered at no cost.

"We offer free transportation to seniors seven days a week as well as free snow removal and lawn care," says Joe Pontarelli, director of senior services in Cicero, which has a population of about 86,000, with about 5,000 seniors. More than half of the senior population (around 2,900) are in Pontarelli's database, having been involved in some of events for seniors and/or used one of the services offered.

In 2002 the city received the Governor's Home Town Award in recognition of all the senior services it provides.

"Many of our senior citizens have lived here their whole lives—and put a lot into our town—so this is our way of giving something back," Raleigh says.

Prior to opening the Cicero Senior Center, the seniors shared a classroom that is attached to one of the town's three fire stations. Besides being much smaller, they had a very limited time to schedule events since the firefighters and police officers also held classes there.

"We are really grateful to BCA for all their work," Raleigh says of the senior center. "The people who use it, love it and continually thank the board for rehabbing the building and giving them their own space."

In turn, BCA says the city showed good stewardship because by reusing an existing building, the project cost was only $600,000. According to Atilano, a new building would have cost around $850,000, not including land costs.

Of course, besides cost, other benefits to "recycling" buildings are reducing waste and conserving resources. Sixty percent of landfills are made up of building construction waste, Atilano says. Using existing buildings also saves land space, plus water and sewage service is already available.

"It's ironic," Terracino says. "Senior men used to gather for coffee here when it was still a hardware store, and now it's the senior center."


Cicero Senior Center:

Burnidge, Cassell & Associates, Inc: