Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Catlin and Petrovick Architects recommended for Wilbraham Senior Center study

Date: 10/30/2014

WILBRAHAM – The Senior Center Building Feasibility Subcommittee voted unanimously at its Oct. 24 meeting to recommend that Catlin and Petrovick Architects of Keene, N.H., should be hired to complete a feasibility study for a proposed new senior center.

The subcommittee’s decision came about after several hours of interviews with a total of three architectural firms. The other two firms were Reinhardt Associates of Agawam and Dietz & Company Architects of Springfield.

The final decision to approve Catlin and Petrovick is dependent on approval by the Board of Selectmen, which will likely take place at the board’s Nov. 3 meeting.

John Catlin, an architect with more than 30 years experience building senior centers, said his firm’s average rate for projects going beyond initial costs is zero to 0.5 percent. The largest percentage that any of his firm’s projects have gone over budget is 2.6 percent.

In total, Catlin and Petrovick has provided feasibility studies to 480 to 491 senior centers and 50 percent end up being constructed, he added. Each project is worked on for about 20 hours per week by the firm.

Paula Dubord, director of Elder Affairs, said she was impressed by Catlin’s knowledge of senior issues such as declining sight, hearing, and mobility.

“[Catlin’s] senior centers, all to me, every single thing has a purpose and a reason and a nice flow,” she added. “Even someone who’s not senior center oriented, if you went into them [and] compared it to other ones I think you would see the difference.”

Dubord said the other two firms did not discuss elder issues in depth and would have contacted the Council on Aging to determine any elder issues at the senior center.

Catlin said he learns both from his successes and mistakes every time he designs a senior center. He said he actively incorporates what has worked in past models to new projects and noted that every community has different needs and issues.

“It isn’t a blatant problem, it’s mostly an issue revolving around the user group,” he added.

Catlin cited his firm’s design of the $8.1 million Holyoke Senior Center as an example, which he said was declared the finest senior center in the state by Secretary of Elder Affairs Ann Hartstein.

“However, the café’s too small,” he added. “It’s very popular. But my biggest mistake there was the placement of the generator, which was an afterthought.”

Catlin said the generator is hidden behind trees and he would have liked to depress it three feet into the ground.

Holyoke’s senior center is a two-level 20,000-square-foot building, which also includes a library lounge, a multipurpose room that can hold 400 people, and a patio with bricks made of recycled rubber, he said.

Catlin and Petrovick also designed and constructed senior centers for communities such as Mashpee, West Brookfield, Belchertown, Leicester, Holden, Ashland, and Millbury, Catlin added.

Daniel Garte, senior project architect for Dietz & Company, said his firm is currently constructing the Westfield Senior Center and completed a feasibility study for a proposed West Springfield Senior Center that has not been funded.

John MacMillan, architect for Reinhardt Associates, said his firm constructed the Agawam Senior Center and has a 90 percent success rate of approval by residents at town meetings for articles dealing with construction costs.

Residents approved $35,000 at the Annual Town Meeting in May to hire an architect to create a feasibility study for a larger senior center. The current senior center is a 3,840-square-foot space leased from the Scantic Valley YMCA at Post Office Park near Boston Road.

Currently, there are five to six sites for a new senior center being considered by the subcommittee, Dubord said. 

The creation of new senior center is dependent on a vote of approval for construction costs by residents at the Annual Town Meeting this spring.