By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough – Within the next six weeks, a design and an updated set of plans for the proposed new Senior Center will be presented to the City Council and residents of the city, Mayor Arthur Vigeant announced at a meeting of the council's Operations and Overview Committee March 14.
“It is a work in progress which will move the program forward,” Vigeant said, stressing the need to plan construction as soon as possible to allow for the city's eligibility for grant money.
Last December councilors unanimously approved $500,000 to fund costs associated with design and engineering plans for a new Senior Center to be built in a section of Ward Park, off Granger Boulevard. Officials say there are several advantages in choosing this site for a new center, which would replace the current one at 240 Main St. Those factors include constructing the building on city-owned property, which eliminates the need to pay for costly land, and that the site allows for at least 70 to 100 parking spaces.
In his formal presentation to the committee, Vigeant re-emphasized the decision to locate at Ward Park, despite some opposition from the Ward Park Neighborhood Association, a group that formed several weeks ago to express concern with the location.? Vigeant said he will also include making improvements to Ward Park, such as raising fields to help solve existent drainage problems which would also help add more field space.
Joseph Rizza, the architect in charge of designing the building, said the goals are to provide “a comfortable, exciting building with a lot of flexible area and to change perceptions from “old age home” to one that is a “vibrant, open space facility.”
Rizza said his firm Courtstreet Architects has partnered with Dietz & Company Architects on previous senior center projects, including ones in Northborough and Franklin.
Rizza said they have been engaged locally in the administrative part of the process and are starting the design phase, which will include visiting existing senior centers and assessing them for features that could be incorporated in the Marlborough building.? Vigeant said that councilors are welcome to join the Building Committee, Advisory Committee and other city departments in meetings about the project to learn what is being considered and offer comments.
The city owns over 500,000 feet of space at Ward Park.? Officials said the ?footprint/foundation of the Senior Center will occupy less than 3 percent of that amount. Although the building is intended to be approximately 13,000 square feet, a second level increases the actual useable space of the building without expanding the footprint, according to Vigeant.
Among the more than 40 residents attending the informational session were Jennifer Claro, Council on Aging (COA) director, Jim Confrey, chair of the COA board of directors, and Paul Brodeur, who is active in the Ward Park Neighborhood Association.