SOUTHINGTON - In about 18 months, the Calendar House Senior Center will no longer be the same. Visitors will no longer wind through the hallways, right and then left and then right again, to reach activity rooms, the bathroom or the office.
Construction has just begun on the new senior center and the developmental team has worked to address every issue they can predict.
With the demographics of the town changing and the elderly 55 and above population growing, the senior center needed more space to offer its services.
“It was outdated, too small, and the membership has grown immensely,” Paul Champagne, the chairman of the building committee, said. “It’s a poor design for what is needed in today’s date technology- and space- wise.”
Two years ago the planning for the new building began to create a new facility with Americans With Disabilities Act compliance. The referendum for the new center was $9.4 million and the center has since secured a state grant of $5 million.
The new 20,000-square-foot center is to be completed in two phases. They will continue services out of the old building while construction on the new one takes place behind it and over half of the parking lot. Once it is built, the services will transfer to the new building before phase two, when the old one is demolished.
“Construction will go on for at least 18 months. That’s quite awhile and we just need people to call in and ask any questions that they need answered, especially with computer classes and what will be going on with that,” Executive Director Robert Verderame said.
The construction fence was placed around the old building this week to make sure all construction and equipment is confined to the back yard of the old senior center.
Every group of the Calendar House was part of the planning. The team assembled to design the new building was chosen to be able to anticipate any needs and design it correctly the first time, in hopes that there will be minimal changes made to it, said Champagne.
“So far nothing has had to be cut out of the things that they wanted. We are within budget with a safe contingency with the bids that came in,” Champagne said. “It was like building a soup, and we haven’t had to take anyone’s ingredients out to someone’s taste.”
The main issue that the development team foresees is the decrease in parking available on site, according to Verderame. The number of available spaces has been reduced from 130 to 50. The Hobart Street entrance is blocked off for shipping and receiving of the construction crew and there will be no-parking signs by the police department.
To ease this issue, Grace Methodist Church at 121 Pleasant St. has offered their parking lot. Visitors can now park there and call in a shuttle to take them to and from the center. In the summer the nearby schools will be closed, so visitors can utilize those parking lots with the Dial-A-Ride program. For the shuttle service, guests must call three business days ahead to arrange for transportation.
“Everyone just has to be a little patient with what is going on,” Verderame said. “Let’s hope the weather gets a little bit better. I have to say that’s always a factor, but I hope there isn’t anything other than that.”
“The biggest thing is we’re going to have to work together and be patient through the first stages as we get going,” Champagne said. “We’re moving forward and this is a great asset to the town and a great benefit to the seniors.”
For more information, visit the Calendar House at 388 Pleasant St. or call 860-621-3014.