The Albemarle is entering the era of the “active adult.”
About a year ago Camden County changed the name of its senior center to the “Camden County Senior for Active Adults.” And on Monday, county commissioners in Pasquotank endorsed renaming the city-county senior center — soon to relocate to the former Daily Advance building at the city waterfront — the “Active Living Center.”
Elizabeth City City Council held up endorsing the proposed name change Monday night, agreeing to hold a public hearing first.
The name change to “Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Active Living,” which Pasquotank County Manager Sparty Hammett said would likely be shortened to “Active Living Center” for the purpose of fitting on signs at the building, was approved by commissioners’ Finance Committee Monday afternoon.
Camden County Manager Ken Bowman said the county senior center’s staff sought the name change to the Camden County Senior Center about a year ago.
“They wanted to present a more positive image,” Bowman said.
He said many older adults have a very active lifestyle and the center accommodates that lifestyle by offering a variety of activities, including trips. The center also features a nice workout facility, he said.
Some patrons of the current Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Senior Center, now located at the Knobbs Creek Recreation Center, expressed concerns about the proposed name change, however. Some are concerned calling the facility an Active Living Center could lead to a loosening of age restrictions that now make the center a special place for them to go.
County officials said Monday the age restrictions at the center would not change with the proposed name change. They also said they might add wording about the age restrictions to signs at the new facility in order to clarify those aren’t changing.
Most patrons said they don’t consider the name change a big deal either way.
Bill Sawyer, Victor Hendricks and Paris Sessoms, who were playing pinochle at a table in the senior center, weren’t enthusiastic about a name change but also said they didn’t think the name was ultimately very important.
“That doesn’t sound like a winner to me,” Sawyer said when asked about the proposed name change. “But anything they want to do I’m all right with.”
Sessoms said “senior center” sounds better.
Hendricks seemed unconcerned about the name. “It really doesn’t matter,” he said.
Sessoms said some people might not like the term “seniors” but he doesn’t mind it. Hendricks, Sessoms and Sawyer all said they plan to continue coming to the center no matter what it’s called.
“They can name it ‘cow pasture’ and I’ll still go,” Sawyer quipped.
Ernest Anderson, who was seated at a table in the front lounge at the senior center, said he dislikes the name “Active Living Center.”
“I do not like that,” he said. “It’s the senior center.”
Cookie Sawyer said she, too, thinks “senior center” is a perfectly fine name for the facility.
Haywood Brown was adamant: “It’s supposed to say ‘senior center.’”
Joe Stuter, who was shooting pool at the senior center Monday, said he’s looking forward to the spacious new building.
“I really don’t care that much what the name is as long as we’re getting a nice building,” he said.
Stuter said he enjoys shooting pool and thinks there will be more room for pool tables in the new building.
Linwood Gallop Sr., who was shooting pool with Stuter, agreed the facility’s name doesn’t matter too much.
“It’s good recreation, something to do,” Gallop said.
Stuter said he moved to Elizabeth City from Pennsylvania and there was nothing like the senior center where he came from.
Dexter Harris, director of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Parks and Recreation Department, said discussions about a name change had focused on a desire to have a name that would seem more inviting.
That same point was made in the staff recommendation that was included in the Finance Committee agenda packet.
“Throughout the country, communities are moving away from using the term ‘senior center,’” according to the staff’s recommendation. “Many baby boomers do not want to be associated with the traditional perceptions of aging. As a result, communities are rebranding their ‘senior centers’ with the most prevalent term being ‘active living.’”
The recommendation states local seniors were asked for input on the name change to Elizabeth City/Pasquotank County Active Living Center or Active Living Center.