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Bayside Senior Center opens doors after renovations

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There were balloons and music, line dancing and card games last week as nearly 100 seniors from throughout northeast Queens enjoyed their first day back at the Bayside Senior Center, which has been shuttered for about a year.

Because the Bayside Senior Center recently underwent a $500,000, 12-month renovation, the hundreds of seniors who usually visit the center at 221-15 Horace Harding Expressway have been using the Hollis Hills Jewish Center instead. The Hollis Hills Jewish Center is at 210-10 Union Turnpike.

“It feels like we’ve come back home again,” said Bob Webster, 79, of Flushing, as he played cards with his friends. Webster was just one of the seniors who packed the center last Thursday from Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston, Flushing and Fresh Meadows.

Program manager Nancy MacColl said the Bayside Senior Center, which is sponsored by Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, serves about 800 seniors a week.

MacColl and Project Director Judy Kleve said the long overdue renovation was the first in the center’s 25-year history.

The work, which was done by the city’s Department for the Aging, included new floors and lighting, as well as improved heating and air conditioning, new closets and electrical work, MacColl and Kleve said.

The Bayside Senior Center, which is on the corner of Springfield Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway, features a variety of activities, including dancing, arts-and-crafts classes, computer classes, pool tables and meals. Kleve said the renovation also gave the center a permanent place for its computers, which used to be rolled into classrooms on a cart.

“This is a welcome back party,” said Kleve, adding that a formal grand opening is planned for September.

Baysider Charles Bovino, 86, is known as “the mayor” around the center and was playing cards with Webster and others on his first day back.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Bovino said of coming to the Bayside Senior Center. “If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.”

Bovino said renovation work also included a new roof.

Max Taitz, 90, of Fresh Meadows, simply said, “I miss my friends.”

Playing cards at a nearby table, Trudy Hench, 79, of Flushing, said all the seniors were glad to return.

“We’re all happy to be back. It’s very nice,” she said of the renovation.

Hannah Wilensky, of Douglaston, praised the renovation job.

“It’s light and cool. It’s lovely,” she said.

Bob Lehman, 70, of Bayside, agreed.

“I think it’s wonderful,” he said as he watched several friends shoot pool at one of the center’s three pool tables. “It’s like getting back to friends again.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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