By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough – The decision to approve funding for Mayor Arthur Vigeant's proposal to build a senior center at Ward Park and make improvements to the park will finally be made by the City Council at the Monday, Oct. 21, meeting. A heated discussion on the loan order/bond request for $6.5 million at the Oct. 3 meeting of the council's Operations and Oversight Committee, chaired by Councilor Joe Delano, resulted in the committee voting to send the request back to the full council without a recommendation.
The mayor's request for a $3 million bond for the reconstruction of the municipal outdoor recreational facilities at Ward Park was also discussed at the Operations and Oversight Committee meeting but was deferred until action was taken on the construction of the new senior center.
During the Oct. 3 discussion, Delano, who has been a strong supporter of the center and location, strongly suggested that other locations be considered before making the final decision. He was joined by Councilor Matt Elder who said he was only 90 percent in agreement with the site.
Councilors Don Landers and Rob Seymour repeatedly argued in favor of the Ward Park site during the subcommittee meeting, and said that to delay would cause the construction costs to increase, as was stated by the architect during the presentation at the meeting.
Vigeant accused Delano of trying to kill the Ward Park proposal.
“If you don's want a senior center, vote no,” he said, stating emphatically that he would not consider another site.
Vigeant is proposing a facility to be built in the northeast end of the park that will have a footprint of 14,500 square feet. He unveiled a conceptual plan and building layout at a public information forum in June. He made a formal request to the council for funding to start the program at the Aug. 26 council meeting.
In asking for funding, Vigeant said he chose the location because it offers seniors the benefit of a place that is adjacent to recreational land, it is city-owned and completion can be expedited.
Objection by residents in the Ward Park location has been expressed with Paul Brodeur of Hayden Street and Michael Nickolas of Water Terrace leading the charge. Also on the agenda at the Oct. 7 meeting was a communication from Brodeur, once again recanting his objections to the location. Councilors accepted the communication and placed it on file without discussion.