Senior organization Oasis retreats from Glencoe’s Takiff Center
Updated: August 27, 2012 10:36AM
GLENCOE — After a year of trying out Glencoe’s Takiff Center as a home for a few dozen programs, Oasis, a local organization providing senior recreation, is pulling up stakes and moving back to Northbrook.
Oasis, with about 10,000 local members, holds most of its programs in the North Shore Senior Center, 1777 Winnetka Road, Northfield, and some at Morton Grove’s American Legion Memorial Civic Center, 6140 Dempster St. But for 22 years, it had free space in Northbrook Court for a significant portion of its offerings — until 2011, when the center took on a paid tenant instead.
The remodeled and expanded Takiff Center, far bigger than needed for current Glencoe programs, took up some of the slack, but that’ll be over soon. Oasis has now turned to the Bernard Weinger Jewish Community Center, 300 Revere Drive, Northbrook, as the new home for its services in the area.
“The problem is that the largest group in Oasis comes from Northbrook. When the opportunity for a facility in Northbrook opens up, we have to consider it,” said Jordan Luhr, executive director of the North Shore Senior Center, which is the local administrator for St. Louis-based Oasis.
“Distance matters to seniors,” he added. “A mile or two matters a lot.”
To some Glencoe Park District personnel, distance didn’t seem to be the key to the change.
“It revolves around parking,” said recreation director Cheryl DeClerck, who has responsibilities for a Glencoe facility with about 100 spaces.
Some of those are set aside, depending on the time of day, for pick up/drop off of day-care clients, DeClerck said.
“They (Oasis) have some very popular programs that draw over 100 participants,” she added.
“I don’t think the parking was the major reason,” Luhr said. “At the end of the day, it was location.”
An e-mail to Glencoe from Mary Futrell, the senior center’s director of lifelong learning and Oasis, indicates the parking deficit is not insignificant, however.
“Our enrollments at the classes at the Takiff location have not grown as we hoped, and have in fact continued to fall, so we have decided not to hold classes at the Takiff Center this fall,” it read, in part. “While it is a wonderful facility with very helpful staff, feedback from our members suggests they are not happy attending classes there, for reasons both tangible and intangible. And there are some facility issues that make it difficult for us to schedule some of our largest classes/best-selling instructors there to help us gain a firm foothold in that location.”
Takiff, with several large rooms, seems to have fewer “facility problems” inside the building to limit programs than it does outside, on the asphalt.
“… we are not a car pooling community,” Luhr noted. “When you bring 100 people, you get 100 cars.
“We worked with the Takiff Center and modified the maximum number of people” in some of the classes, he said.
Parking, he said, is an issue at the Northfield building, too.
And, at times, even at Northbrook’s Weinger, said Shari Viner, the site manager, though the facility has more than 150 spaces.
It also has an indoor swimming pool, where seniors can sashay from an Oasis dance class to a water aerobics session.
Weinger, unlike Takiff, also has a fitness center that’s a participant in the Silver Sneakers program, in which workout memberships are paid for by Medicare.
Oasis visited the Weinger center for months, scouting its possibilities, Viner said.
Oasis will start off with about 22 classes at the JCC in September. The Takiff Center started the summer with 34, but some of those were cancelled for low enrollment.
Oasis paid the Glencoe Park District only about $30 for the use of a room, and the JCC’s take is expected to be similar, Luhr said. But money isn’t the point.
Northbrook Court liked hundreds of seniors walking past its stores. And park districts like Glencoe’s — and others which used to be in the program — want them becoming familiar with their offerings, too. The JCC is no different, Viner said.
That’s why the Glencoe district first became involved — it had plenty of extra space, and a brochure that appeals more to young families than adults.
Soon, the seniors will be going to the JCC. Viner said non-Jewish visitors need not feel out of place.
“They would walk in and find it to be like a community center like any other community center,” she said. “I don’t know if they would necessarily walk in and know they’re in a JCC.”
Ironically, the Glencoe and Northbrook park districts’ new agreement to swap resident rates for Glencoe’s beach with residents’ rates for Northbrook’s pools is seen as a success largely because Glencoe and Northbrook are next door to each other — closer together than other towns, where such swaps failed.
But distance is relative, and most of the residents taking advantage of the swap are parents, not grandparents.
“I think the older we get the more distance matters,” Luhr said.