All who passed through the doors of the redesigned Peter Cardella Senior Center agreed the old center was among the finest in the city, but as residents entered the new lobby and observed the expansion, they agreed that newer is better.
Hundreds of seniors, dressed to the nines, celebrated the Ridgewood center’s grand reopening on Thursday, April 26 after more than a year of reconstruction, during which the center did not shut its doors.
“As you come in the scenery is gorgeous. It makes a wonderful impression,” said Marie Pollina, 84, who has been going to the center for more than 30 years. “I’ve gone to others and they don’t compare.”
The celebration commemorated both the center’s reopening and the man whose name graces the building.
“The world is a better place because of Peter Cardella,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who has given more money to the center than any councilmember in the center’s history.
Cardella, 94, the founder and chair, attended the ceremony and spoke about his vision for the center when it opened in 1974.
“My goal was to open a center where the people were served with dignity,” said Cardella, who along with Executive Director Barbara Toscano, received a commendation from Comptroller John Liu for their work and commitment to the area’s seniors.
The redesign includes a 3,000-foot expansion, a new lobby, an elevator, a health and wellness room, more office space and an outdoor courtyard. A new computer lab will be added in July.
“I’ve been here before and I thought it looked fine before, but now it’s magnificent,” said Borough President Helen Marshall.
“I think we’re the nicest senior center in all of the city. I’ve been to others that have been renovated and they’re nothing like this,” Toscano said of the center that serves more than 225 seniors each day and 60,000 meals per year. “It’s a lot more senior friendly.”
Joseph Ferretti, chairman of the Ridgewood Seniors Community Corporation, said that though the old center worked well, they wanted to serve the area seniors even better.
“We had more people that wanted to use the center than we were able to serve. We outgrew our home,” he said. “With this expansion we are able to serve more of you, and more of you better.”