The newly renovated penthouse floor of Rocco Impreveduto Towers was packed with seniors on Friday morning ready to try out the new exercise machines, comfy couches in the flat-screen TV room, or the snappy wood and leather chairs in the library. Each room provided a stellar bird's-eye view of Secaucus and points beyond.
"I don't know what else you could want - light and a change of scenery," said Joan Bader, 72, an 11-year resident of Rocco Impreveduto Towers, from a chair in the reading room. "You can come here for the quiet. It's also a perfect place to watch the kids play ball or watch traffic." The library looks out over the newly renovated Kane Stadium, a combination football and softball field, the New Jersey Turnpike and New York. On the west side, the TV lounge and exercise room looks at the heart of Secaucus.
A new lease on life
Seventy-nine-year-old Jim Daley, a former foreman in Edgewater, has been a Secaucus resident for 43 years. He said he was impressed with the new facility. It would give him a chance to do some walking on the treadmills. Daley said he used to walk three miles a day around town until his wife, Rose, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. They moved into Impreveduto Towers two months ago.
"This is beautiful! [It's] much more than I expected," Daley said. "I'll wait until the excitement wears off with the crowd and then try [the fitness machines] out. This will be good for my wife, since she can sit and listen to the women talk. I never had so many people around before. This is good for company."
Kroll Heights resident Stella Lombardi, 78, said she's been in the building since it opened in 1993. She said she had looked in Jersey City, North Bergen and Union City but none of the senior affordable housing offices were taking applications. When she came to apply at Secaucus Housing Authority, she got in with no trouble.
"I got in an apartment within a month. I could have kissed the floor, I was so relieved," Lombardi said. "The services here are great. I don't know why they didn't get this [The Health and Wellness Center] here a long time ago. Seniors really like to exercise."
Not too old to be spry
Nina Villanueva, Social Services coordinator, said that plans were in the works to have someone available to show the seniors how to use the two treadmills and two exercise bikes. In addition to the four machines, there are yoga and other exercise tapes available in the library.
Plus, a staff person from Lifespan, a physical rehabilitation program at Meadowlands Hospital, is scheduled to come to the new center on Nov. 1. The Secaucus Housing Authority staff was advising residents to show up with a buddy.
"We will have seminars to help keep current with senior health issues and workout routines," said Villaneuva. "We also ask people to come with someone to keep the safety factor intact. We're just asking everyone to use common sense."
Evelyn Leahy, 86, an 11-year resident at Rocco Impreveduto, teaches Jazzercise in the Kroll Heights community room. The international workout routine combines elements of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, and yoga for a variety of fitness levels.
She also teaches line dancing on every second and fourth Monday. Leahy will also conduct classes on how to use the fitness machines.
"There will be scheduled lessons to get people acquainted with the machines. The controls take a little getting used to," said Leahy.
A happy ending to an empty space
Bill Snyder, Executive Director of the Secaucus Housing Authority, said when Impreveduto Towers was first being built 12 years ago, he negotiated with the contractor to build the structure for the top floor of the building. He said they provided electrical and plumbing rough-ins, yet the space remained unfinished for 10 years.
According to Snyder, an additional elevator stop was put in six months ago, along with the ceiling, walls, lights and carpeting. The renovations were finally completed at the end of May, but the furniture came in just two weeks.
"I thought about making the area into offices but there was a need for this. So here it is," said Snyder. "You can sit in the quiet or be social or workout. It's a great place to be, no matter what you want to do."