Scores of seniors came out to celebrate the grand opening of the new state-of-the-art Inglewood Senior Center, a multipurpose facility in the rapidly developing City of Inglewood, located at 111. N Locust Street (N/E corner of Queen Avenue and Locust Street). In 2005, the seniors were promised a new facility; the old building was demolished to make way for the new center, but construction never happened. However, with a new regime of like-minded folks in City Hall, projects are being completed, and the center’s opening is evidence of the progress Mayor Butts vowed when he took office. And with new NFL and NBA stadiums in the making, a future Super Bowl, the Olympics and much more, Inglewood is moving forward as promised.
Artie Fields, City manager of Inglewood, pointed out to hundreds of senior attendees that during the development stage, his staff sometimes worried if the Mayor [Butts] would financially support their lofty ideas for the center. “So, we’d call the Mayor and everyone would look sheepish, and we’d say, ‘Mayor, we have something we’d like to talk you about …’ After about five times of calling meetings, he knew that every meeting we were asking about money. But I can tell you that he never turned us down. And so, we put every bell and whistle we thought you deserved in the senior center and you won’t disappointed at all,” assured Fields.
Mayor Butts spoke directly. “I got elected in 2011 and [the Senior Center] is all I’ve heard about since 2011. Well, today, this promise is fulfilled and kept for you,” he said. According to Mayor Butts, the center is 35, 000 square feet, with a building cost of 27 million dollars. Butts stated that in all his work experience, he has never seen a more superior facility. “I have never seen a building the quality of this structure that you will inhabit from now on.”
Mayor Butts praised Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Eloy Morales Jr., Councilman, District 3, for their unwavering commitment to the project. Morales Jr. is the senior member of the council. He emotionally and comedically reflected on his 15 years with the City of Inglewood and how different the environment was then. “It’s so different; we are like a family now but back then it wasn’t like that,” he said. Morales mentioned how the positive environment and the family-like camaraderie in City Hall helps to get projects completed. Congresswoman Waters and Councilman Morales Jr. were honored for their tireless work with replica paintings of their image to be hanged in the senior facility. With one more trick up his sleeve, Mayor Butts stunned Congresswoman Waters with the news that a special room in the center was named after her.
Congresswoman Waters was instrumental in earmarking 4.5 million dollars through Congress (from 1999 to 2005), securing the allocated funds needed to financially support the senior center project years later. “We have all worked very hard. As the mayor alluded to, the City of Inglewood is experiencing great economic development and considerate growth. Our seniors will not be left out,” She said, as the enthusiastic seniors applauded her. The officials seemed astatic that this marathon of a project was behind them now, on a project Mayor Butts inherited when taking the reigns in 2011. “I am here with the Mayor, City Council, all the elected officials, and the leadership of the City to join with you in this wonderful spectacular event today. Mayor James Butts you have done a spectacular job as a leader of this city. This was a long time coming but you have made this happen. You are to be congratulated for your leaders.”
Waters also mentioned the contributions of members of City Council and all the elected officials. “I am more than happy in what I am seeing today.”
Sabrina Barnes, director of Parks and Recreation and Library Services, felt the time was right for the senior center. “Today is a great day in the City of Inglewood. Our seniors deserve it; this is the least we can do for them considering what they have done for the community. A lot of the services that we provide are meant to keep our seniors independent and healthy in mind and body, and this is going to be a great place for them to live rich lives,” Barnes said.
The Inglewood High School marching band and cheer teams performed as the seniors danced in their seats, while some stood up and danced in the aisles. Later, these same partygoers went inside, dancing to the live senior band’s funky Blues music, and a special shout out to the amazing guitar solo rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain”. One senior dancer stopped just for a moment to wipe the sweat off her face. “It’s very important to have this facility, so we can stay active and have a beautiful place to fellowship,” said Cheryl Brewer, a senior resident of Inglewood. Senior citizen Jeannette Taylor has been attending the center since 1986, where she has volunteered and helped other seniors. “I am very proud to see this day coming. We have waited a long time. I thank and praise God for this day, “ she said.
The general message of the event was that the City of Inglewood is a united front and steadily moving forward in their mission of expansion and fulfilling promises.
Additional photos by E. Mesiyah McGinnis