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Friends of the Wilbraham Seniors intend to buy land for new senior center

Date: 9/16/2015

WILBRAHAM – The Friends of the Wilbraham Seniors hopes to purchase 7.26 acres located behind Christ the King Lutheran Church at 758V Main St., which could be utilized as a building site for a new senior center.

Robert Page, president of the Friends of the Wilbraham Seniors, told Reminder Publications if the town decides to build the senior center and if the Senior Center Feasibility Committee chooses the property as its top site, the organization plans to purchase the property and give it to the town.

Page said the Friends have raised more than $150,000 during the past five years through its fundraising efforts. The land would cost $139,900.

The Friends have entered into an option to purchase the property, which does not include the church building, he noted.

He added that the Friends have informed the Board of Selectmen, Town Administrator Nick Breault, and Senior Center Feasibility Committee Chair Dennis Lopata of its intentions.

The committee is also reviewing a potential two-acre site at Fountain Park, which was ranked as the top site in April. The 758V Main St. property was ranked as the second most desirable site, while a roughly 3.5-acre space at the Mile Tree Elementary School baseball field was ranked as the third best site.

Lopata said in light of the news from the Friends of the Wilbraham Seniors, the committee would have to rank the properties again.  

“[The Main Street location] scored well, but we also have to take in consideration the architect’s input regarding this site,” he added.   

Fountain Park’s deed does not allow for the senior center to be built at the site. A change to the deed at the state level would be required as well as a Town Meeting vote to bring the matter to the legislature.

Lopata said he believes the Fountain Park and Main Street sites are viable locations for a new senior center.

He added he is amazed by the Friends’ fundraising efforts.

“I think it speaks volumes to the people’s commitment to seeing that an appropriate senior center is built in town and is able to service the seniors at the highest level,” he said.

The Friends are also planning to raise funds for constructing and outfitting the proposed new senior center, he noted.

“I’m estimating that in total the Friends we’ll probably raise at least $500,000, perhaps even more with our standard fundraising techniques,” Page said.

“We’re doing what we can to make this as palatable as possible for our community, yet still with the drive and the community spirit to actually be involved with the project,” he continued.

Lopata said the committee does not have a timeline on when the project may come before Town Meeting voters for funding.

“A lot will have to do with what happens during these next couple of meetings to determine the site of choice,” he added.