By CECILIA PADILLA-BRILL
Hipsters aren’t the only population that has increased on the Eastside. The ranks of older residents have also swelled, prompting an effort to expand a busy senior center in Griffith Park that serves an area stretching from Echo Park to East Hollywood.
A motion sponsored by City Councilman Tom LaBonge would direct the Department of Parks and Recreation to work with the Griffith Park Adult Community Club to figure out a way to redevelop the Griffith Park Adult Community Center, which is housed in a pair of portable buildings on Riverside Drive. Recommendations include adding a therapeutic senior pool, exercise space and determining other ways to accommodate the needs of seniors.
The motion says the center has a capacity of 150 people, which is too small given the demand for its services and activities. The center “is experiencing a shortage of space, as it is one of the smallest senior community centers in the city,” according to the motion. “Due to serving a large population, the Club is exposed to a conflict of space and is now turning away opportunities for activities and classes.”
The motion recently won the support of the City Council’s Arts, Parks, Health Aging & River Committee. But, during a committee meeting, a Recreation and Parks Department representative indicated that while the department supports the club’s efforts, “funds are very limited and cannot be committed at this time,” according to a committee report. The motion and committee’s recommendation have now been forwarded to the full City Council for a vote.
The Eastsider contacted LaBonge’s office for more details but there was no response.
The center is dedicated to serving residents age 50 and over across an expansive area that covers Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Franklin Hills, Silver Lake and other areas.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of residents age 55 and up who lived in the Zip Codes near the center increased by about 4,000 between 2000 to 2010.
Stephanie Vendig, a club volunteer involved with the expansion effort, said she hopes to push the project further along the political pipeline now that City Councilman LaBonge is leaving office and David Ryu is taking over.
“Yes, the older population is increasing due to both longer life spans and the Baby Boomers,” Vendig stated in an email. “So one of my objectives is not only to advocate for our center’s expansion but also assist [city officials] to prepare for an increasing need to pay attention to the quality of life provided for their older population.”
Cecilia Padilla Brill is a communications writer and journalist. She writes news, health, education and feature stories. Cecilia is currently working on her first novel. She has lived in Echo Park since 1999
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