Inside the Niceville Senior Center are numerous comforts and facilities which include the Happy Days Diner, and rooms dedicated to socializing, arts & crafts, exercise, classes and meetings, a computer lab, and a game room.
It won’t be easy for the Niceville Senior Center to live up to the success and popularity of the city’s innovative Children’s Park and Turkey Creek Park, however, Niceville City Manager Lannie Corbin is confident his concept of a pleasant, eye-pleasing, active gathering place for seniors will be as popular as his other community gems.
One thing is certain: like the Children’s Park and Turkey Creek Park, the senior center will be uniquely Niceville, and very likely a model to follow for other communities in the state, and across the nation.
“So many of the senior centers I have visited seem sort of dark and depressing, “ said Corbin during a recent walk-through of the facility which is nearing completion on Campbell Drive, in the shadow of the Niceville Softball Complex.
“That’s not what I wanted for our community. So, as we’ve done before, we’re breaking new ground with new ideas.”
Corbin envisions Niceville’s first Senior Center to become a hive of activity where seniors aged about 50+ can gather to have fun, socialize, relax, use a computer, exercise, or learn something new.
Its amenities include a landscaped courtyard which Corbin said was inspired by courtyards in New Orleans and Savannah. It will feature an outdoor cooking island which includes grills and a pizza oven, porch with tables and chairs, a water fountain and a stage area for entertainment.
Inside are numerous comforts and facilities which include the Happy Days Diner, and rooms dedicated to socializing, arts & crafts, exercise, classes and meetings, a computer lab, and a game room.
Classes are likely to include yoga, meditation, tai chi, Zumba Gold, and aerobics, said Corbin. Invited speakers are likely to be physicians and other health professionals, attorneys, and gardening enthusiasts, among others.
The Happy Days Diner, which resembles an old-fashioned malt shop, will be used during special events.
“It will be like going back in time,” said Corbin.
The computer lab at the Niceville Senior Center will feature nearly two dozen computers. The social room will have comfortable sofas and chairs; shelves stocked with books, and a fireplace to help warm things up on cold winter days.
Outdoor features planned for the facility include raised-bed vegetable gardens, a pickleball court, putting green, and walking trail.
The senior center building was originally a surplus modular building obtained from the Navy. The 9,500-square-foot building had been used as a classroom for the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal training center at Eglin Air Force Base.
The City of Niceville purchased the building for about $80,000. It cost $35,000 to move it to the senior center site at 200 Campbell Drive.
City workers have been working on the site and building—as time allows—since late 2015. The center was originally projected to be open in 2017. Corbin said the extra time was needed to make sure everything is done right.
An opening date is expected to be announced soon.