A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Seniors make requests about center

Written September 16th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

At the former Albany Senior Center on Thursday afternoon.

One afternoon this week, I dropped by what Albany now calls its Riverfont Community Center. I hadn’t been inside the place since just before it reopened last winter after being shut down for Covid.

During the shutdown, the center was remodeled. Then it was “rebranded,” so-called, in order to appeal to a wider community of users.

Since 1975, when it opened near the river at the north end of Washington Street, the place was universally known as the Albany Senior Center. The city staff hopes that by calling it something else, more people will take part in programs or activities there, potentially adding to the revenue needed to keep it open.

I don’t know if this is working out.

But at least twice in recent months, most recently on Wednesday, someone went before the city council during “business from the public” and pleaded for restoring parts of the old senior center.

The place formerly had a little snack bar and a coffee counter. A few years ago, I used to find quite a few folks gathered around the snack table when I was invited there once a week to lead a discussion about local issues.

If I recall correctly, there was a little gift shop too.

The couple who addressed the council recently (I didn’t hear their names because I was watching online) asked for two things. They would like pool tables restored to the center. And they’d like the word “senior” added back to the name.

Maybe something like “Albany Senior and Community Center.”

On Thursday afternoon, when I wandered through the place, about a dozen seniors were sitting in small groups around tables, playing cards or mahjong. Some were doing some kind of needle work.

The corner room where I was told the pool tables had been was empty. The space now is used for classes and other meetings.

Mayor Alex Johnson II told the lady who addressed the council on Wednesday that the council would take her comments under advisement and have a conversation with the city manager and parks and recreation director.

The seniors’ requests don’t sound unreasonable to me. The council owes them the courtesy of an answer soon. (hh)

A couple of pool tables used to be set up in this room.


The “Criverfront” label might benefit from adding “senior” to it somehow.


20 responses to “Seniors make requests about center”

  1. CHEZZ says:

    The place used to be buzzing with and for seniors. I used to go in there, not as a senior, to purchase beautiful handmade items from their gift shop. I would do a walkabout and chat with a few seniors. The pool tables were always being used consistently. It doesn’t sound very warm and inviting without coffee/tea/hot chocolate and the snack bar. The senior population has gotten larger with few places to go for this kind of senior connection. I am sure that the City can afford a few creature comforts for our seniors.

  2. David T. says:

    Seems like a perfectly reasonable request to me.

  3. Pat Schlecht says:

    The “former “ Senior Center had besides an open coffee table that was enjoyed by a large number of daily visitors, it had a wonderful gift shop that sold almost $20,000 in locally handmade crafts during the last year it was open! The City received 20% of those funds for depositing and returning the checks to the approximately 100 individuals that displayed items. It should be strongly noted that these individuals were almost all seniors that do not set up at craft fairs and street markets or have Etsy stores! They were talented people that typically made items for friends and family or sold then by word of mouth. The Senior Center gave them an outlet that does not exist anywhere else in Albany. It should be also noted that the gift shop was staffed entirely by volunteers, including the inventory book work. The City then handled all the income and distributed checks monthly.

  4. Carol Gascoigne says:

    Many of the local Seniors were heartbroken with what their Center became. They used it for getting together with friend and socializing. Gave them purpose to get up out of the house
    The little gift shop was stocked with items the folks made. Good stuff.
    There were knitting and sewing circles, exercise classes.
    Meals on Wheels served Seniors in a dining room setting there. My husband worked in the kitchen and helped set the tables for them and served. Lots of laughter around those tables
    It is all gone now. For What??

    Seems like the Seniors who helped build this town are no longer needed or wanted. Shame on you Albany

    • Matthew Calhoun says:

      Uhhh, Meals on Wheels is still operating in the center? You make it sound like it’s gone away. Probably just one of many falsehoods from the rumor mill.

      No other public facility in town is segregated like this to my knowledge. All taxpayers pay into this facility and they should have equal opportunity to enjoy it with a more inclusive label that includes all of our community, not just 15.7% (Albany’s population over 65 according to the census) of it. This Albany taxpayer applauds their efforts to include the whole community in this building.

    • Julie says:

      Meals on Wheels is still serving congregate dining Mon-Fri from 11:15am-11:45am at the RCC.

  5. sunflower says:

    Why take away from the older folks to attract the younger ones? They won’t be interested in coming to the River Front. Its the same with the Newspaper. They take away the content us older people are interested in. The younger people they are trying to attract are not interested in subscribing to a newspaper. I get my local news from you, Hasso. Thank you for all you do!!

    • Richard M Gougeon says:

      Thank you Sunflower. Hasso is my link to what is going on in our city also. Keep up the good work Hasso and thank you.

  6. Cheryl P says:

    “The city staff hopes that by calling it something else, more people will take part in programs or activities there, potentially adding to the revenue needed to keep it open.”

    It’s always about the money isn’t it, not what is best for the community.

  7. Mike Martin says:

    Great comments. And I thank you also Hasso. HH-today is a valuable and much needed link to what is happening in our community. Too bad the DH had to move their news coverage to Corvallis. That being said am I to assume that the college population is dictating the choice comics now waisting print paper? I gotta stop – starting to get angry.

  8. The beast says:

    Hasso almost always delivers the news of Albany before the paper does

  9. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    “Criverfront” made me laugh out loud.

    During the time the demographic bulge in seniors happened, Albany decided to re-brand its “senior” center to a generic “community” center.

    Bureaucratically stupid. Politically, even more stupid.

    You’d think the Mayor & City Council would step in and fix this.

  10. Connie says:

    Before the “demise” of the Senior Center I made annual charitable contributions to it. I redirect to a different charity now.

    I thought the “Cumberland Church” was going to be the community center for Albany when it was finished. Two community centers in Albany?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The Cumberland Center is off in the indefinite future, I think. Also, it will be a private nonprofit venture, meaning that it will have to charge something to make a go of it.

      • Connie says:

        The Senior Center also charged groups for the use of that facility. The Albany Timber Twirlers Square Dance club rented it for bimonthly dances until the cost got to be too much. Keep in mind most square dancers are also seniors!

  11. Jeny Taylor says:

    I loved their gift shop. It was all handmade by local artists. They were beautiful and one of a kind presents. I would shop there for special presents for family and friends. I was also checking in to going and learning about quilting from the senior citizens that met for that. I think it is important for our senior citizens to have a place that is their own for gathering and social times, although they never excluded me or anyone else that came to visit and learn. As a community, we ALL should honor and learn from their experiences and knowledge.

  12. SUSAN MACKEY says:

    A lot of Seniors are isolated and crave interaction … but no where to go … and they don’t do social media (a lot cannot afford the internet and/or are challenged by all the new technology)!! Why is it so difficult to provide a safe environment/place for Seniors to gather, socialize, play games, talk, get help, and feel less isolated … feel like a part of their community they help build. They have all sorts of places for younger people … the Y, restaurants/bars, gyms, social groups, outdoor clubs/activities, etc. … not geared towards seniors. Please help our seniors.

    • Matthew Calhoun says:

      Seems like minus the pool tables (that were only utilized by 0.1% of Albany’s population, or 0.7% if we’re only counting those over 65 according to the census), a piano, and free food that it’s the same space. Two bulky items that seem costly to maintain and the latter item I was told by staff at the reopening was shut down because of the county health department. Kids are in school and activities look like they’re back. If folks choose to stay away it’s their own stubbornness over change and unless they’ve been back personally, is gullibility to a vocal minority’s misinformation campaign.


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