City shows new Senior Center plans
Date: 12/20/2010Dec. 20, 2010
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD -- They have the site, they have the initial plans and now all the city needs is the $11 million to build a new central senior center.
Mayor Domenic Sarno unveiled the drawings of the proposed center at a meeting of the Parks Commission last week. Executive Director of the Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management Patrick Sullivan noted that, in his 20-year career with the city, this is the farthest point anyone has come to developing senior center.
Sarno said the center "has been a long time coming."
Currently, the central senior center is in a former courthouse building on Columbus Avenue. Sarno said crossing the busy street has been a challenge for some seniors and the proposed site in Blunt Park would be more safe and central.
The new center would be more than just for seniors, Sarno explained. It is designed to be used as a location for a variety of events.
Doug Goodman and Myron Hatchet of Reinhardt Associations, Inc., of Agawam walked the Commission through the design. The center would have 300 parking spaces and at maximum capacity, could be used by 700 people at one time. Its dining and meeting facilities would be built in such a way that they could be separated from the rest of the center -- allowing their use at times when the rest of the center is closed.
Because the center would be built in a park surrounded by trees, Goodman explained it would have a rustic look with natural light and exposed beams.
Hatchet added the building would be very energy efficient and the designers are planning to use a geothermal heating system to save money. He said the "operating costs would be one of the best in the city."
"We want to do this first class," Sarno said.
The Parks Commission accepted the designs and now will work on establishing a working relationship with other city departments on the project.
As far as funding goes, Sarno noted the hard times the state is facing and said, "Everything will be on the table." He expects the center will be built through a combination of public and private funds and that senior groups will have to engage in fundraising efforts.
He added that offering the naming rights to the center might yield part of the construction costs.