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Unico building expands opportunities for learning

Date: 9/27/2013

By Carley Dangona

WEST SPRINGFIELD – The Park and Recreation Department will soon have its first permanent location to provide year-round events to the residents of the town.

On Sept. 12, the department celebrated the groundbreaking for the renovation of the Unico building that is located is located in Mittineague Park at 1 Unico Way. The $1.4 million cost of the project is funded through bonds.

The outline of the project states, “The building is in need of major renovation. Plumbing, toilets and sinks are original and 42 years old, as are light fixtures. The concrete floor is deteriorating and has become a health concern. Electrical and lights are not energy efficient. The heating system, which is propane works, however, the building is not insulated and heating cost prohibits use during cool or cold weather.”

The 3,200 square-foot building was donated to Park and Recreation in 1995 and serves as a home to its summer camp program for children with mental and physical disabilities. The grand opening of the updated building is slated for July 2014, to coincide with next year’s camp.

“I can’t wait to see the kids’ faces when they pull up on the bus,” Vicki Connor, director of the department said. “For us, it would be one of the first year-round facilities. We want the building to be the flagship of Mittineague Park. Our hope is that it will bring new visitors to the park. Our goal is to get more people in that park.”

Connor said that the renovations would add a concrete slab picnic area with picnic tables and a new adaptive playground. In addition, there would be bathrooms and a kitchen area available for use. She said the department might offer the facilities for rent for special events as a way to fund the upkeep of the building once renovated.

She explained that her department would coordinate with the School Department and the Senior Center to offer an “endless possibility of enhanced” program of classes and workshops. This winter, the fitness classes will be taught in the Unico building. Some of the possible programs include Zumba, cooking classes, American Red Cross training, the Start Smart Program and more.