San Antonio officials said a newly opened public facility next to Walker Ranch Park will not only focus on the health and recreational needs of area senior citizens, but it will also offer many resources to the overall north side community.
The dining hall of the Walker Ranch Senior Center was packed Aug. 1 with residents attending a ribbon cutting for the city’s 11th comprehensive senior center. According to the city, the opening of the Walker Ranch complex marks the launch of the city’s 51st public senior center/nutrition site.
The city’s 2017 bond funded construction of the $14.2 million, 26,337-square-foot structure at 835 W. Rhapsody Drive on the southwestern edge of Walker Ranch Park.
District 9 City Council Member John Courage said the new facility—the first public senior center in District 9—is in an ideal location because Walker Ranch Park historically marks a well-noted gathering place for people who lived off the land in the area centuries ago.
“Knowing the vital role that older adults play in their own family and in the community, we want to ensure this project supports active development of older adults,” Courage said.
Local officials said the San Antonio Department of Human Services will provide various activities and programming for adults 60 years and older, including classes in exercise, dance, art, creative writing and technology; a noon meal; health screenings; wellness education; and recreational activities, such as Bingo, lotería, table tennis, billiards, movie screenings and field trips.
In addition to the dining room, Walker Ranch Senior Center contains computer/technology and arts and crafts classrooms, an exercise area with treadmills, stationary bicycles and other fitness equipment, a dance studio and a health screening office, according to a news release.
The senior also features an alcove for visitors with laptops and other digital devices seeking a spot to charge their electronics or connect to the city’s free, public, high-speed internet service, the city said.
Additionally, the facility will be able to host small community events and group meetings as well as a second District 9 council field office, which will provide constituent services. But city staff will be available on-site to chat with any resident with local questions or concerns, Courage said.
The center also has another alcove where visitors may sit and read books available from the San Antonio Public Library or play board games.
“It is my sincere hope that Walker Ranch Senior Center will serve as a neighborhood hub for older adults to make friends, pursue hobbies and maintain their health,” Courage said.
Courage also said the new senior center accommodates public art developed with community input. The center’s lobby contains two large tempered glass art pieces created by artist Stephen Galloway.
Titled “Canopy Dreams for San Antonio,” Galloway’s permanent display consists of 10-feet-by-24-feet depictions of native Texan trees.
“The artworks invite the viewer to feel grounded as they look up into the tree canopy and experience the sensations of health and well-being supported by this center and the adjacent historic Walker Ranch Park,” Courage said.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg thanked voters who approved the 2017 city bond and praised residents who contributed toward developing the programming for the new senior center.
“This is an impact project that will boost quality of life for those who use it, and I’m proud to see this long-sought senior center finally come to fruition,” Nirenberg said.
Courage and Nirenberg said the public owes much to Courage’s council predecessor, Joe Krier, who pushed for a senior center in District 9 while he represented north central San Antonians at City Hall.
Krier said he was happy to see a District 9 senior center finally become a reality, adding that it was symbolic progress that the city is working to make regarding enhancing neighborhood services.
“I’m glad we’re all here to harvest those seeds and see this center [as] what it was meant to become,” Krier said.
City officials said they anticipate the Walker Ranch Senior Center receiving about 300 visitors per day. The center is open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. For more information, call 210-207-5280.