PALISADES PARK — The former Senior Recreation Center — now known as “1450 Ocean” — is searching to define its new niche by offering classes and different types of programs focusing on nurturing creativity.
The center was mired in controversy last year when the City Council voted to move all services to the Ken Edwards Center on Fourth Street under the direction of nonprofit WISE & Healthy Aging.
At the time, senior citizens lamented their loss of the ocean view at 1450 Ocean Ave. and its choice spot in Palisades Park.
The concern has since dissipated, said Jessica Cusick, cultural affairs manager with City Hall.
Since April, the center has been in operation under its new mission.
“We offer a range of classes that have to do with writing, felting, painting … but also classes with dance or exploring other types of culturally-based exercise programs such as yoga that have a cultural component to them as well,” she said. “It’s a pretty interesting range but it’s all about nurturing your own creativity.”
Cusick said the Community & Cultural Services Department views the center as a “pilot” program that has seen some class cancellations due to lack of interest, but less than initially. She said any new facility takes time to find its audience. But, attendance has “doubled or tripled” at events she’s been to recently, Cusick added.
“That may be going from three to six, but still it shows that so much of a new facility is word of mouth,” Cusick said.
The number of classes vary, but the center offers 15 different types of programs through August, she said.
The new center’s aim is to serve the entire community and not just seniors, said Naomi Okuyama, cultural affairs coordinator for 1450 Ocean.
“The people who have taken the classes have been really excited about them,” she said
The center has added a couple hundred people to its e-mail list recently and has drawn 185 “likes” on its Facebook page, giving Okuyama hope that things will pick up.
Cusick said any morning at 1450 Ocean, she’s seen former senior center clients still dropping in to chat.
“Our real vision (is) this becomes a community center for people to access their own creativity and a place for them to come together and make things,” she said. “We’re making partnerships with artists, other organizations and that takes time and experimentation.”
For more information, visit smgov.net/1450ocean