Elva Roy, 69, is one of many Arlington retirees who enjoy a senior center membership that lets them use a pool with several water exercise features, go to a movie theater showing recent releases and dine in an on-site cafe.
What she doesn’t enjoy is driving to Grand Prairie’s state-of-the-art center, The Summit, and paying nonresident tuition to use it.
A upgraded, designated senior center with amenities is one of the issues that spurred her and 65 others to create Age-Friendly Arlington, a grassroots advocacy group that first met in August.
“Arlington has some decent parks, but they don’t have good senior facilities,” said Roy. “Both are about 50 years old.”
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The Hugh Smith center and the branch library in east Arlington will be replaced, not with an age-restricted facility but with “just a room at the back that seniors can use,” Roy said.
Age Friendly Arlington’s other current concerns include transportation and accessibility issues, particularly making sure that housing of all kinds allows seniors and the mobility impaired to enter and be able to move about freely.
The group started with Roy’s attendance at a University of Texas at Arlington focus group on aging issues in Arlington. About 20 people exchanged email addresses, and by the time they first met last fall, those people brought friends.
Now they have a presence on the city’s website too.
“Things are clicking along,” she said. “We’re just trying to make Arlington reach its potential so it has things that appeal to all age groups.”
The group hopes to become a resource for information on all kinds of aging issues and services.
“We want volunteer opportunities to be listed,” she said. “We would like to promote businesses run by senior citizens, and those that offer senior discounts.”
Roy has monitored the city’s website for its information and has seen an increase in information recently.
The website has forum topics including jobs and business opportunities, exercise for free, free pet adoptions, older men’s health and volunteer opportunities. There are also postings about age-friendly grocery stores that offer discounts, churches that offer free exercise, games or other events open to nonmembers, and town hall and City Council meetings where issues can be discussed.
The group had hoped that it could get the city to put an item on the May election ballot proposing the construction of a senior-only center paid for by an increase in sales taxes. Though that did not happen in time, Roy has been encouraged by the increased support it seems to be getting from city leaders, including Councilman Charlie Parker.
A multigenerational facility in southeast Arlington is going to be built with bond funds.
“Arlington is a little bit late to the party, but we’re here now and we intend to make a difference,” Roy said.
This year’s Age Friendly Arlington meetings are mostly scheduled on second Mondays of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. at Tarrant County Arlington Subcourthouse, 700 E. Abram St., first-floor meeting room.
Dates are Feb. 9, March 9, April 13, May 11, June 1, July 13, Aug. 3, Sept. 14, Oct. 5 and Nov. 9. The June, August and October meetings are on the first Monday of those months. There will be no December meeting.
Anyone is welcome to join the group or offer input.
The group’s website is www.agefriendlyArlingtontx.org.
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657