Loudoun County officials on Thursday, Sept. 5 held a groundbreaking ceremony for the future Ashburn Senior Center—and, unusually for a such a ceremony, drew a crowd.
Although county supervisors hold groundbreaking ceremonies regularly for new facilities and roads, generally they are sparsely attended if at all by anyone other than government staffers, contractors and news media. But the groundbreaking by next to the Potomac Green Neighborhood Park, near the Regency at Ashburn neighborhood, drew a crowd of dozens of onlookers to celebrate the start of construction on a long-awaited gathering place.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Service Steve Torpe.
The county has had plans for an Ashburn senior center since 2009, but those the project was unfunded and with no set construction schedule. In 2017, the project began to move when supervisors negotiated a proffer agreement with the developer Toll Brothers, which proffered a five-acre site for the center.
Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) credited, among other people, longtime senior citizen advocate and former Commission on Aging Chairwoman Charlotte Nurge, who died in 2016. He said Nurge “worked her tail off to make sure that Ashburn had its own senior center.”
“She almost knew for sure that she wouldn’t have access to the senior center, but she cared so much for our community that she wanted to make sure the next generation would,” Meyer said.
“The concept of building a new senior center is phenomenal, because it establishes a community in and of itself,” said Commission on Aging Chairman Richard Payne. “You’ll meet people you haven’t met before. You’ll do things you haven’t done before. You’ll learn things you haven’t learned before.”
County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) pointed out that seniors are one of the fastest-growing population segments in Loudoun, and said the majority of volunteer hours in Loudoun are given by seniors.
“For us to be doing this is so important, because what it means is, we take care of you because you’re taking care of us,” Randall said.
“Seniors contribute more to the community, in my mind, than almost any age group,” agreed board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). “You’re involved, you volunteer, you help us out, and at the same time you consume less services, typically, for the county. You don’t have kids in schools.”
The 15,000-square-foot senior center will include a small gymnasium, a large multipurpose room with pickleball courts, classrooms, a commercial kitchen, a fitness room, a game room, a computer lab and an arts-and-crafts room.
Deputy Director of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure Bruce Johnston suggested an Ashburn pickleball league between the residents of Regency and Potomac Green.
Torpe said the senior center will be a place to create memories.
“This building is going to give us opportunities for new friendships to grow, for old friendships to get stronger, to recreate, to grow, to just have a place to go and be,” Torpe said. “That’s what we do. That’s what you all deserve.”
The senior center is expected to be open by fall of 2021. The total project cost is estimated at $13.2 million, helped by the use of proffered land. More information is at loudoun.gov/AshburnSeniorCenterProject.