On Wednesday, Sept. 4, the John Booth Senior Center is relocating to Patterson Park’s Casino building, 2601 E. Baltimore St.
The move comes just under one year after a city proposal surfaced for the relocation with added parking near the Casino and Virginia Baker Recreation Center to accommodate 96 cars. After the proposal was leaked to the public, Councilman James Kraft also reported that the city had designs on making the new senior center a “flagship” center for Baltimore.
That plan leaked to the public, and, after the ensuing shouts of “no more cars, no more parking and no more paving!” by 500 angry protesters and a giant chipmunk, as well as Councilman Kraft, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake reconsidered. She directed the neighborhood associations bordering on the park, as well as the nonprofit organizations and city departments concerned with the park, to form the Patterson Park Working Group and decide the fate of the park.
After a winter and spring of deliberation, the group decided to provide senior citizens with access to the Casino building. The group adopted a plan that allows parking—without additional pavement—for six cars at the Casino itself. The plan also allows parking for 13 cars at the Virginia Baker Recreation Center. In order to accommodate the additional rec center spaces, the existing parking-lot retaining wall will be pushed back to create more space.
The John Booth seniors who spoke to the Guide were in favor of the impending move.
“I’m very excited about going out [to the Casino],” said Marlene Bertalo. “The building is beautiful.”
She said that most of the seniors she has spoken to are excited about the move, though a few have expressed disappointment.
“They say that they can’t walk up the hill,” said Bertalo, “but we’re working on finding them transportation.”
There will be six parking passes available for seniors to park around the Casino. Others will carpool or drive, park on Baltimore St., and walk to the new center, which will be called the John Booth-Eleanor Hooper Senior Center.
“I think it’s a great move,” said Marian Robb. “This building we’re in now looks like it’s been here forever.”
Robb said that the Casino is “lovely” and “a wonderful building.”
Velenovsky said that several seniors had toured the building on Friday, Aug. 17.
The last day of services and programming at the original John Booth Senior Center, 229 Eaton St., is Mon., Sept. 2. On Sept. 3, the center will be closed for the move, and the Casino facility opens on Wed., Sept. 4.
Hours of operation for the John Booth-Eleanor Hooper Senior Center are Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Adults 55 and over are welcome to participate.
Activities include senior aerobics, gentle fitness, stained-glass painting, mosaic making, screen painting, Bingo and Pokeno.
Eating Together in Baltimore is a daily, membership-based senior lunch program, available every weekday for which more than 10 members have made reservations. Reserve two days prior to the lunch. The price of the lunch is a donation.
For more information about the new senior center, please call 410-396-9202.
by Erik Zygmont