Santa Cruz opened two rooms for senior activities, and city staff gave senior representatives a tour. Photo by Joan Koczor

Maricopa senior groups are settling into their new home at a local elementary school this summer after being displaced by the construction of the State Route 347 overpass.

The groups, formerly located at the Copa Center, had been searching fervently over the past several months to find an alternative home. Cooperation with officials at the city and Maricopa Unified School District landed them at Santa Cruz Elementary.

Joan Koczor of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee called the rooms “amazing,” noting they were clean and freshly painted. “Much more than I expected. And several steps up from when we had originally seen them.”

She is also on the advisory board for Maricopa Seniors Inc., one of the organizations at whom the project was targeted.

City Community Services Director Kristie Riester worked closely with the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee and several of the groups affected by the transition. So far, she said, the transition is going well.

“It’s been phenomenal,” Riester said. “They have two beautiful classrooms with tables and chairs and cabinets that are open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.”

To make things work at Santa Cruz, the city and school district worked together to construct a chain-link fence to separate the seniors from the students.

The cost of the fence was absorbed in large part from a $4,000 donation made to city Senior Services by Student Choice High School, an area charter school which operates out of Copper Sky.

This fence allows senior groups to maintain their own separate entrance to their area of the building without causing security concerns for the school. Without it, the seniors would have been denied access to the two classrooms, thus forcing them to rely on an a much more limited space at Copper Sky.

Locked interior doors serve the same purpose inside the building.

Senior groups, organized or otherwise, had used the Copa Center for their events, such as card games, crafts and volunteer efforts, for the past few years. But the Copa Center will be one of the casualties of the pending overpass construction.

This story appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.


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