Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 47
 
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
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Dancing Shoes but no Dance Floor: Senior Resource Center Eyes Repairs

Matthew Hersh

Aerobics, chair exercise, ping pong, strength training, yoga, dancing, and a myriad of other community events will eventually take a toll on a building that was not originally designed to endure so much activity

It appears that “eventually” has arrived, and the Princeton Senior Resource Center is hoping to do something about it.

PSRC, a private non-profit organization founded in 1974 providing programs and services for adults over 55, is facing a troubling reality: its seniors are too active, and its facility, the Suzanne Patterson Center, can’t hold up much longer.

In the past two weeks, PSRC executive director Susan Hoskins has launched an appeal to both the Princeton Borough and Township governing bodies, explaining a situation that has long plagued the center: PSRC is successful, but its facility is in dire need of reflecting that fact.

Take dancing, for example. Anybody who has set foot in the Patterson Center would see what appears to be an ordinary gym floor, but, as Ms. Hoskins pointed out, “When somebody stomps hard on a 50-year-old maple floor, the tongue and groove cracks, and it gives way.”

Ms. Hoskins wants to replace the floor with something that is safer but still usable for the range of activities at the senior center. “We could do linoleum, but the dancers wouldn’t be happy, and then we could just carpet the whole thing, but that doesn’t work for aerobics and dancing,” Ms. Hoskins said, adding that the rooms also need to continue accommodating large dinners and lectures.

The Patterson Center is a municipally owned building, so an appeal to the governing bodies to approve financing for not only an analysis of the extent of damage, but repairs as well could be tricky. There are no final price tags yet, Ms. Hoskins said, but the costs will likely range in five figures.

“It’s a major project,” said Wayne Carr, director of the Borough’s Public Works department. “There’s been an ongoing problem with the floor based on the way it was originally installed,” Mr. Carr said. Currently, there is no sub-floor underneath the surface and it allows the floor to start to break. “We’re constantly in there trying to repair it so no one twists an ankle.

“It was set up as a gym, but it just doesn’t hold up to daily country and western dancing, and all of the other stuff they do over there. It wasn’t designed for that.” Mr. Carr said.

Borough engineer Christopher Budzinski said the pinpoint pressure the floor at the Patterson Center receives will require attention — and soon. “We can repair the floor and try to do a fix, or we can rip the entire floor out and replace it altogether, which would mean putting a plywood sub-floor down,” Mr. Budzinski said.

While another issue facing the Patterson Center is poor acoustics, Ms. Hoskins appears to be more focused on floor improvements. She said while the increased use of the center is a “blessing,” PSRC has “ramped up what we’re doing, and the building is busy seven days a week outside our regular hours. We have anywhere from one to five activities happening at one time during the day and we rent the space out every night including weekends.

“The issues of the safety of the floor and the audibility of the room really have an impact on our programming.”

Princeton Borough and Township will likely address the Patterson Center’s improvement financing in the new calendar year, Ms. Hoskins said.

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For information on the Princeton Senior Resource Center, go to www.princetonseniors.org or call (609) 924-7108.

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