Story and Photos
By Sara Hall | NB Indy
Newport Beach seniors are pretty excited: There’s a new Oasis in town.
The OASIS Senior Center held a grand re-opening for a crowd of about 300 on Saturday in Corona del Mar.
Herbert Rogers and Renate Vogelsang, both of Newport Beach, said they have been members of OASIS for about 20 years.
“We’re very excited,” said Vogelsang, “and old people don’t get excited.”
The two danced to a live band in the Evelyn Hart Event Center during the event.
After a brief ceremony with speeches from several people involved with the project, visitors ate, drank and checked out the facility and all of its features.
“It’s a great turnout,” said Director of Recreation and Senior Services Laura Detweiler. “We’re very pleased.”
Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry said he was proud that the project came in under budget and on schedule. The total project cost was $15.7 million, approximately $4 million under the original estimate of $20 million.
The project shows how committed the city is to its seniors, he said. Curry, who said he has already signed up, said the gym is the best bargain in the city. The travel group and library services are also excellent, he said. The Evelyn Hart Event Center will also be a great resource for the city, he added.
“I hope to spend a few years here myself,” Curry said.
Councilwoman Nancy Gardner also spoke, highlighting all the features the center has to offer. She mentioned the fitness center was something she was personally looking forward to using.
Leslie Engeldrum Hardy, fitness center coordinator, said there has been a very positive reaction to the gym at OASIS.
“People are very impressed,” she said.
A lot of visitors to the gym love the new, tech-savvy machines. It’s state-of-the-art equipment, she said.
There is something for everyone, Detweiler said. There are over 100 classes, she said, some of which are free. A person has to be 50 or over to be a member, she said, but anyone can come use the library or have lunch. There are also a lot of volunteer opportunities, she added.
The OASIS center has been very successful since the soft opening in September, Detweiler said.
“There has been a constant flow of people and participation,” she said.
About 1,500 people came to the sampler week, she said, and 450 people signed up for the gym within the first week.
“We didn’t have anything like this before,” Detweiler said.
Jocelyne Perry, Dee Krosrog and Marge Paull, all longtime OASIS members, agreed that the facility is beautiful.
“It’s a piece of art,” said Perry. “And it’s so different from the old one.”
Detweiler said it has been great to open the doors and have everyone excited about it. People love the beauty, sophistication and aesthetics of the center, and the details the architect put into it, down to every nook and cranny, she said.
“It fits well in the community,” she said.
Deputy Public Works Officer Dave Webb said the project was definitely a team effort and thanked everyone who helped.
Friends of OASIS President Scott Paulsen also commented on all the hard work the staff put in to the project.
“I get to work with some of the neatest people in the world,” he said.
Co-Chairs of the Building Fund Committee Evelyn Hart and Dr. Gwyn Parry both agreed that it was a team effort. More than 400 people donated money, said Hart, who has spearheaded the project since its inception.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Hart to everyone involved. The community made this possible, Parry added.
“There has been a lot of people involved (with this project),” Detweiler said. “There is a great sense of pride from everyone.”
Jed and Kim Hulsey, of Corona del Mar, said they are excited to be a part of the activities held at the center. The new seniors, as they called themselves, said they want to get more involved with the senior group. They also love that the center is so close to home, they added.
Jed Hulsey said that as a teacher he would also like to volunteer
“I can’t wait to use it,“ he said. “(But) I also want to contribute to it.”
The construction took about 18 months, Detweiler said, but the entire project has been a five-year effort. A lot of time and effort from a lot of people, Detweiler said, went into the project, including a lot of community input.
“You’ll be amazed,” said Detweiler, “when you come through those gates.”