Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, with a crowd of nearly 500 residents and visitors, officially opened the newly renovated East Columbia 50+ Center located in Columbia. Ball was joined by Maryland Secretary of Aging Carmel Roques, a representative from the office of U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes, and several Howard County Councilmembers. Photos of the event can be seen here.

Since 2022, Howard County has been a proud age-friendly community, as recognized by AARP, because of our efforts to empower our older adults and create designated spaces for growth and community building. As a freestanding building, this new center will be a place where our community of all ages, but specifically our older adults, can recreate and engage with one another.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

In 2015, the Department of Community Resources (DCRS) identified the East Columbia 50+ Center as one of the top priority projects in its Master Plan. DCRS estimates one-third of Howard County’s population is 50 and older, as of 2022. An estimated 40% of older adults live in East Columbia.

“Howard County is demonstrating, well ahead of a plan being actually developed, what being ‘longevity ready’ looks like,” said State of Maryland Secretary of Aging Carmel Roques. “We will be turning to all of you in this county to engage you in developing this plan, which looks to the future of not just Howard County, but all of Maryland.”

At 29,000 sq. Ft., the new center is seven times larger than the previous center. Before today, the existing East Columbia 50+ center totaled nearly 17,000 annual visits. Of those visits, it is estimated that 86% of visitors are 60 years or older and 35% live alone. The current space was insufficient to offer desired programming to meet the needs of the community.

“The Center stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to ensuring your well-being and happiness,” said Ofelia Ott, Administrator of Howard County’s Office of Aging and Independence.

The newly renovated space includes a commercial kitchen, large community meeting spaces and a technology hub for virtual programs. Additionally, there will be expanded educational programs such as art and language classes. One of the most pervasive issues facing our older residents is social isolation. This new center will have a social day program that will promote connection and community.

“The East Columbia 50+ Center represents Howard County’s commitment to providing spaces where community members can come together, socialize, learn, and thrive,” said Howard County Councilmember Christiana Rigby, who represents the district in which the new center is located. “Together with the library and new park, I’m excited to see Owen Brown enter its newest era.”

“Many of you here today that have been paying your taxes for 20,30,40 years, we will make you proud of this investment,” said Meridy McCague, East Columbia 50+ Center director.

The current East Columbia 50+ Center was the only one in the county that did not have a fitness center. The new center boasts a fitness equipment room and exercise studio geared towards older adults to support healthy aging.

The new center is located in the middle of the newly established “East Columbia Campus”, which includes the East Columbia Branch Library and the East Columbia Park.

To help offset County funding, The Department of Public Works, in coordination with County Administration, submitted a Bond Bill in support of this project with the Howard County State Delegation to help receive State funding for this project. In addition, the County applied for a $800,000, through the Maryland Department of Aging capital bond program.

“In six years, we’ve gone from three dinky little rooms to this wonderful building that will be the center for our community for many years to come,” said Fran LoPresti, East Columbia Advisory Committee.

“Today is a day that rights a few wrongs that have been going on too long in our county. Today is a day where our seniors in Howard County win,” said Pastor Tyrone Jones, PATH.

“We could not have done it without each and every one of you without your voices, without your encouragement, without your support and your love and commitment of the team, the mighty team that runs this place every single day. Welcome to your new building!” said Howard County’s Department of Community Resources and Services Director Jacqueline Scott.

The new East Columbia 50+ Center is located at 6610 Cradlerock Way in Columbia, Maryland.

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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