The Select Board agreed to allocate $20K to the next phase in a planned addition Cordaville Hall to expand the Southborough Senior Center. The funds will come out of the $3M in ARPA funds the Town is entitled to receive.
The decision was made at the Select Board’s March 15th meeting. The allocation is to cover engineering and architecture plans. Facilities Director John Parent pitched that, if approved, the plans could be ready in time to go out to bid for renovation work to start this summer.
For those unfamiliar with the municipal building, it’s worth pointing out that not all of Cordaville Hall is dedicated to the Senior Center. It also holds some municipal offices.
The requested addition is for a room added onto the front of the building, between the front entrance and side halls. (Image right is a past rendering of how the addition could look that Parent shared with me upon request.)
The Senior Center administration is eager for more room to expand their offering to town seniors. When thanking the Board and Parent for their support, Council on Aging Chair Bill Harrington stated:
the seniors of this town have been more isolated than most of the people with this Covid. And to have this room which we really need where the seniors can come in and just sit down and chat with each other, and read a paper, watch the tv . . .this would be a great thing that that helps them get back on their feet and get back, and they get their social life and get out of their houses.
Additionally, Center Director Pam LeFrancois referenced that Senior Center programs have been filling up with wait lists. Expanding the center will allow them to include more attendees for popular programs.
While the Board has voiced support for the renovation, they pulled back on an initial plans to designate ARPA funds for construction. At the meeting, Chair Lisa Braccio told the Board that ARPA members asked the Board to let them complete their process.
The Board appointed a Committee of volunteers to look at potential uses, solicit public feedback, and make recommendations. They have been meeting each week. Earlier this month, the Committee launched a survey requesting residents to prioritize potential uses of the ARPA funds. The listed uses include “Senior Center expansion”.
The survey is open until April 5th. The group is holding a public forum tomorrow night.
On the 15th, Parent told the Select Board that estimated construction cost is $325,000. But given inflation, he was requesting $400K to provide a “cushion” for unforeseen costs.
Capital Planning Chair Jason Malinowski supported the Town moving up renovation plans for Cordaville Hall. Although his committee is looking at larger projects for a potential municipal building complex (including a Senior Center), that work would be several years down the road.
Malinowski noted that the Senior Center addition was the longest deferred need in the Town’s capital plan.
In 2018, Town Meeting approved a $30K Feasibility Study to look at a project, including an addition, renovations, and a new bathroom. At that point, the center had already been waiting patiently for years.
In 2020, residents followed up with $25,000 to renovate the bathroom. Back then, there was still hope that the Town could save funds on the room addition by contracting Assabet Valley’s vocational program for the project. Unfortunately, the pandemic pushed back the school’s project timeline.
In recent months, officials revisited projected costs and determined that potential savings from waiting wouldn’t be enough savings to be worth the delay.
We need to follow through with this. Our seniors need the space!
I usually agree with you, but there has to be some critical thinking applied here. A good portion of this building is dedicated 100% of the time to pool players. Nice sport. But I was also told by one of the pool players that only 2 of the ‘regulars’ are Southborough residents. Seems to me we could put that space to better use. It is probably 25% of the space for the meeting room area.
And one more thing, as a retired firefighter, you know the risks going in a building full of asbestos and that is the Senior Center. That building is a money pit, just like the old Fayville Hall.
Why spend this money if the Senior Center will relocate to Woodward in a few years?
The arguments in favor by Town officials are…
Even if the Town follows that route with turning Woodward into a building that contains a Senior Center (which isn’t certain)… first Town Meeting would have to approve a Neary Building project. Then that project would have to be completed and Woodward students relocated to that building. Then the Woodward school would need some renovation work to accommodate the Senior Center and other Town uses.
Continuing to put the renovations off in hopes of all that means making the senior population wait years for improvements beyond what they’ve already been waiting. This project could be potentially completed this year. And if the Town is going to invest in this project, officials believe it should be done soon to get as many years of use out of it as possible.
It’s also worth noting that the plan to put the Senior Center at Woodward wasn’t enthusiastically embraced by that community. Not that it has been officially opposed. But there have been some concerns voiced about the parking situation at that site.
The biggest parking area is downhill from the building. There is upper level parking and plans to add to it. But since the building would be shared with other departments and groups – there was trepidation expressed by Council on Aging that there may not be enough available, accessible spots for seniors. That’s one of the details the Town would have to work through if there is support for moving forward on that project.
I guess I still oppose this sine we may tear the building down in a couple of years. But thank you for explanation.
This is great news! I’m so happy for our seniors.
The Senior population is projected to increase significantly over the next few years. The Neary project (if approved) and the conversion of Woodward to a town use will take many years. The Council on Aging has been waiting patiently for this expansion. The projected cost of the expansion is not significant in the long run. We spend very little money on our Senior population currently. I personally hope this project goes forward – quickly.
There is a great need to provide more dedicated space and more services to our senior population. Not only is that population increasing significantly, but there are not enough services now. Classes and events are usually filled which results in long waiting lists. It is discouraging as a senior myself to be repeatedly put on a waiting list.
The staff are wonderful, they do what they can.
In addition to additional space for social events, groups and classes, there is need for more outreach services. There are many isolated, home bound seniors that need outreach to help coordinatte home health services, meals and other needs.
The town needs to recognize the needs for seniors, many of us have lived in this town for a long time.