Lewes Senior Center eyes expansion

Plan would nearly triple space for programs, activities
March 22, 2018

On the heels of its milestone 50th year, officials at the recently renamed Lewes Senior Activity Center are eyeing a major expansion of its Nassau facility that they say will create the best senior center in the Cape Region. 

Officials plan to break ground on a project that will nearly triple the size of the current building on Janice Road, in the shadow of the Nassau bridge. 

The addition will add a lounge, large fitness rooms and more space to allow a wider selection of programs for the growing membership.

Board President Andy Zampini says membership fluctuates between 1,000 and 1,200, but officials project membership to grow to 1,800 by 2020 and 3,500 by 2025.

The senior center board realized about a year ago that expansion was in the cards, said Mike Rawl of Horizon Philanthropic, which is aiding the organization with the expansion. 

“The board recognized there was a real need to expand their services and upgrade their center so there would be more of what the incoming generation of retirees is looking for in terms of keeping active and healthy,” Rawl said.  

The Lewes Senior Center was founded in 1967. Early meetings were held in Lewes Presbyterian Church before the center found its own building on McFee Street in Lewes. In 1989, the center relocated to an old Cape Henlopen School District building in Nassau, where it is has remained until today. 

The building hasn’t changed too much in the last 30 years, except for a large multipurpose room that was added for classes and activities. 

The project is expected to cost about $1.7 million. The senior center is pitching in $250,000 and fundraising the rest. Rawl said they’ve already secured about $500,000 in funds from foundations, so the capital campaign is well on its way to hitting its goal. 

The board says the larger facility will make the Lewes Senior Activity Center the premier place for the area’s senior community; with more space, the center will expand its services. 

There will be more programs throughout the day, such as zumba, yoga, dance and others. 

An exercise room that is double the existing size will offer more equipment and more opportunities for members to stay in shape. 

New pickleball courts, horseshoe pits and bocce ball courts on the grounds will offer new outdoor activities for members. 

The objective is to provide a centrally located senior activity center where members can access programs to keep them healthy and independent through social and physical activities. 

“Lewes is basically built out, so most of the [housing] expansion that is going to be taking place will be out Route 9 and in the Milton area,” Rawl said. 

DelDOT’s plan to add a two-way road under the Nassau bridge along with the expansion of the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail will make the senior center more accessible than it’s ever been, he added. Parking will be twice the size of the current facility.

With a larger facility comes the need for larger staff; more employees will be on hand to help members, including an employee for programs and services and another dedicated to travel and activities. 

The plan also includes improved local transportation and more regional and out-of-state travel opportunities.

The first fundraising event – Jesse Garron’s Tribute to Elvis – is slated for Thursday, April 26 at the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach. Tickets are $60 per person, which includes buffet dinner and one drink ticket. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., the buffet is 6 to 7 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the center or at Advance tickets only.  

Anyone interested in donating to the capital campaign can call 302-644-0107.