Farragut and West Knox residents are getting a new place to play (and learn and exercise and hang out with friends).
The West Knox County Senior Center is set to open in early 2020 and, when it is open, the Frank R. Strang Senior Center, 109 Lovell Heights Rd., will close.
The new facility is the former Faith Lutheran Church, 239 Jamestowne Blvd., bought by the town of Farragut for $2 million with a 20-year lease to Knox County for the senior center. Knox County will pay up to $2 million for renovations and the partners will split any additional costs, up to $2.25 million, according to Knox County Commission’s July 2018 minutes.
Sue Stuhl, director of Parks & Recreation for the town of Farragut, said: “Having a community center has been a dream for the town of Farragut for a very long time, but it was always a difficult fiscal decision. The partnership with Knox County and the availability of this former church made it all possible, and we’re extremely excited to be opening our new community center on Farragut’s 40th anniversary.”
April Tomlin, senior services manager for Knox County, said, “We want to honor the 20-year existence of the Frank Strang Senior Center as we transition to the new center. This move recognizes the need to expand programming for the seniors in our community.”
Darrell Gooding is the Strang Center coordinator. The facility was Knox County’s first senior center, opened at the former Farragut library site when the new library was built on Campbell Station Road.
“We want to honor Mr. Strang and other founders, perhaps with a memory wall at the new center,” said Gooding. He deferred questions about the old building’s future to county officials.
It’s an understatement to say Gooding and assistant Lisa Cooper are excited.
“We’ll have the same hours and all the current programs,” Gooding said, “but we’ll be expanding programs as well.”
He hopes to launch support groups for Alzheimer’s Disease caregivers, for instance, and add more exercise classes. Gooding came to Strang from the Karns Senior Center where he collaborated with the University of Tennessee to offer master gardener instruction.
“We want a wealth of new classes – both educational and fun.” The new facility will include game rooms for activities such as ping pong. Gooding plans a “game social” for participants to meet others with similar interests.
There is no “pay to play” policy at the senior center, but some classes charge fees of $2 to $3 to compensate instructors. The senior center is open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The number is 865-670-6693.