Reminder Assistant Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW Despite the overcast skies, the outlook was sunny for everyone gathered at the Pleasant View Senior Center on North Main Street last Wednesday.
Bright pink-clad Morning Glory Walkers, selectmen, state representatives and even Clerk of Courts Brian Lees were present as Carolyn Brennan, director of the Council on Aging (COA), optimistically announced the beginnings of the senior center's renovation.
"It's hard not to picture Rosalind Clark here welcoming us all, saying 'Hi, sweetie!' and giving us big hugs," Brennan said. "This renovation would be a dream come true for her. She's cheering us all on this morning."
Clark served as director of the East Longmeadow COA from 1980 before succumbing to cancer earlier this year.
Executive Director of Parks and Recreation Carolyn Porter echoed Brennan's feelings and thanked all those who had helped this moment come to fruition from the "legislators to the tax payers who approved of the project."
Representatives Mary Rogeness and Angelo Puppolo voiced their congratulations on the start of the project as well. "This is a well needed, long overdue renovation," Puppolo said. "It's a good project for East Longmeadow. I'll definitely be keeping my eye on its progress."
So far, $1.2 million have been raised for the renovations to what was formerly Pleasant View Elementary School. Built in 1912, this will be the first major renovation the building has had in almost a century. New heating and air conditioning equipment will be installed, as will a sprinkler system in case of a fire emergency. A new, larger kitchen area will be built. The renovation announcement that earned the most applause from the audience of seniors, however, was that of the bathrooms.
Progress came slowly but surely for the renovation project. Donald Thompson, Muriel Andwood, Bob Hildreth and Walter LaBroad made up the Senior Center Study Committee and have been working for over six years on this project. "We're vigilantly watching what's going on to make sure that our money is well spent," Thompson, chairman of the committee, said. He added that funds will need to be raised over the next three or four years to ensure there is enough money to complete all the projects.
The Morning Glory Walkers will be assisting in the fundraising process.
"We've made donations of $1,000 every six months to the study committee from our bottle and can drives," Audrey Bonacher, treasurer of the walkers' group, said. When they can no longer walk outdoors, the ladies do laps inside the senior center's auditorium.
"We have fun and we help out," Bonacher added.
The kitchen staff plan on having a bit more fun in their future kitchen as well.
"Right now, we prepare 60 to 70 meals a day for Meals on Wheels, plus a varying amount of meals for those in the center," explained Barbara Torrey, an assistant cook. "The space we have now is smaller than some family kitchens, so it'll be nice when we have a new one." Torrey was preparing food on a table in the hallway just outside the kitchen as she said this.
The future will be brighter for the Pleasant View Senior Center, according to Jack Villamaino, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. "The Council on Aging provides countless quality activities for seniors," Villamaino said. "This renovation will have a profound effect on everyone in our community."