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Senior Center to be completed ahead of schedule

President of the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center Emile Cot (far left) presented a placard to member Jack Conroy (center) in honor of his work on behalf of Friends during his last meeting on Feb. 6. Mayor Susan Dawson (right) was also in attendance. Reminder Publications photo by Katelyn Gendron
By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM Mayor Susan Dawson told those in attendance at last week's Friends of the Agawam Senior Center meeting that their new facility on Main Street is projected for completion ahead of schedule.

Construction of the new $6.3 million senior center began last October and according to town officials was projected for completion within 18 months. Dawson said she was unable to give an exact date of completion but that representatives from Barr Inc. the construction company hired for the project have notified her of the center's advanced timetable.

"We watch it [the construction crews] everyday. It's fantastic," Emile Cot , president of the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center, said, adding that he is highly anticipating move-in day.

At their meeting the Friends discussed the new center, posed questions to the mayor and also discussed additional fundraising efforts for their Expansion Fund. The fund which Cot said has a current balance of approximately $250,000 was established to raise money for the furnishings and interior decorations for the new center.

Cot said he continues to work tirelessly with Friends to raise additional funds in honor of his late wife Cathy Cot , who lobbied for a new senior center for over a decade.

Cot said fears of slowed or discontinued construction of the new center were abated once Dawson revealed the facility's latest parking plans, which gained tentative approval from the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners last month.

Members of the board said at last month's meeting that previous senior center parking plans prompted concerns about the parking lot invading the Housing Authority's green space, vehicle headlights shining into Meadowbrook Manor residents' windows and traffic and safety concerns.

Dawson assured the Friends that she has not only endorsed the bond for the new center but that she has also been working closely with the town engineer and Housing Authority to ensure that the parking plans gain permanent approval.

Joan Linnehan, director of the Senior Center, said she and others have continued to take photographs documenting the progress of their new facility. "The crane is here and the framing is going up," she explained. "It's really exciting."

Another member of Friends, Jack Conroy, chair of bottle and can drives, delivered his last address to the members at last week's meeting. Conroy said that after seven years as chair he is looking forward to retirement and has left the fundraising efforts in the hands of the new chair J. Paul Morin.

Conroy explained that the initial goal for the bottle and can drives seven years ago were to raise $1,000; however, he added that the drives have raised over $8,000 for the Expansion Fund.

He was honored with a placard presented to him by Cot on behalf of the Friends for his efforts.

Conroy said he felt "very good to be honored in this way" for all of his work.

The next Friends fundraiser will take place on March 7 at the Senior Center on Meadowbrook Manor at 5:30 p.m. The fundraiser will be a corned beef and cabbage dinner along with entertainment provided by the Good Acoustics. For tickets for this event contact Cot at 335-9440.