A senior center may soon be a reality for Octorara area residents.Talks are under way for construction and staffing of such a facility, which many residents say is sorely needed. Currently, the closest senior center is in Coatesville, which is a 15-to 20-minute drive from Parkesburg.

"I think it's timely," said Rep.

Art Hershey (R-13th Dist.).

The senior population is burgeoning in the Octorara area. According to the latest 2002 census, the senior population in Chester County is on the rise. Between 1990 and 2000, the population rose 15.2 percent in Atglen (1,310 residents in 2002), 13.1 percent in Parkesburg (3,380 residents), 6.1 percent in West Fallowfield (2,590 residents), 13.1 percent in West Sadsbury (2,4780 residents) and 2.9 percent in Sadsbury (2,790 residents).

Talks are in the early stages. At a steering committee meeting, held Sept. 11, the consensus was that there is a need for a senior facility in Octorara.

"We would like to look at positives in the area for our seniors," said Bob Hume, Department of Aging affiliate.

The desire for a set meeting place, scheduled programs, and reliable transportation is considerable for both the increasing number of area seniors and their families.

"There are so many things available if we had an area meeting place. Then they could know they were there," said Jim Norton, YMCA board. There is a senior club that meets the first Wednesday of every month, but there is a need for consistently planned activities, both physical and sit-down.

Brian Wenzka, director of the Octorara YMCA said, "We've made lots of attempts to have programs for seniors. Some worked, and some have missed the mark."

"At this point, we're not trying to pick a site or make plans," said Norton. "We're addressing the needs and the problems of the situation." Difficulties which will need to be addressed include transportation, parking, public awareness, and cost.

Hershey said Octorara seniors need access to modern facilities and computers. The Coatesville Senior Center currently has 350 adult members who enjoy table games, card games, a fitness center, and a sit-down dinner once a month. This existing center could serve as a model for Parkesburg in the future.

Sadsburyville resident Margaret Pierce agrees that a local senior center would be a positive addition to the community. Though she is currently a member of an existing area senior club that meets once a month, she said, "Well, I think it would be nice."

Parkesburg resident Joan Moore feels the same. "I think there probably could be a need for it. It would be nice if we had a Y or a pool."

On Nov. 13, a open meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Attendees are invited to bring a brown bag lunch; dessert and drinks will be provided. Parkesburg Presbyterian Church will provided apples. During this lunch, a survey will be taken in order to allow the public to express their own ideas about the center.

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