WILMINGTON — This past Monday, Dec. 16, members of the Wilmington Elederly Services Commission gave a presentation advocating for the construction of a new senior center at the Board of Selectmen meeting.
Among those presenting were John Wallace (Chairman), Mark Ryan (Vice Chairman), Gail Protopapas, Robin Theodos, Mary D’Eon, and Pat Robarge. Additionally, two members of the focus group, Deborah Russo and Diane Allen, also spoke on behalf of the project.
Among the reasons discussed in favor of a new senior center building, many focused around the structural issues with the current building. These include concerns such as potential Asbestos in the walls, not enough parking, and handicap accessibility. The current building’s size was a primary topic of conversation, for there is not enough room currently to accommodate all activities, or the growing senior population.
This comes into play in terms of having to move equipment in and out, hosting certain events in different buildings, and capping the amount of people allowed to take part in certain programs. Currently, 30 percent of Wilmington’s adult population is comprised of seniors.
The commission states that a new senior center would offer the opportunity for increased and updated physical space, as well as increased programming and services.
In their presentation, the commission looked to renovated or new senior centers in other communities, specifically in Wakefield and Newburyport, to compare to the current Buzzell Senior Center building, as well as to demonstrate possible expansions that could be brought forth to Wilmington.
After the presentation, the commission asked the board to sponsor an all-inclusive article for the 2020 annual Town Meeting. The article would include preliminary engineering design, final design, construction, and construction administration, virtually taking the project from conception to creation.
They projected the project would cost about $8.75 million. They propose Free Cash or the Capital Stabilization Fund should be used to fund it, for it would not impact the current tax rate.
Primary concerns brought forth by the board included questions regarding a potential location, and syncing up other needed building projects on the Facilities Master Plan to keep current bond ratings. Discussion pointed to needing more information, reviewing any drafted article, as well as a public vote before any definite actions could be taken, in order to assure that the process was gone about correctly.
To watch the Senior Center discussion from the Board of Selectmen meeting, visit WCTV.org.