Selectmen Endorse Senior Center Planning Funds

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Aging , Town Meeting

Chatham's current senior center. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM Though they’re decidedly undecided about a location for a new senior center, selectmen this week endorsed a town meeting article that funds a feasibility study and the hiring of an owner’s project manager.

The article asks town meeting to appropriate $100,000 to fund a site feasibility study, to pay an architect to produce a conceptual design and cost estimate for a new senior center, and to hire an owner’s project manager who would oversee the project.

“This will provide an opportunity to continue to move forward” but only once a site is chosen for the project, Principal Planner Terry Whalen said. Language in the article specifies that the project is “contingent upon a site to be determined by the board of selectmen.”

Various sites have been floated for a new senior center, including a wooded area off Middle Road near the wastewater treatment center and the current little league field behind the community center. Selectman Jeffrey Dykens said the board is sympathetic to the need for a new facility, adding, “I believe we think it should be located somewhere other than where it is now,” he said.

Last month, the finance committee balked at the idea of seeking funding for a full 25 percent design of a new senior center, saying the current conceptual plans are too ambitious and costly. Finance committee members stressed the need for finding a location for the senior center before designing it.

Selectman Dean Nicastro said that, should this article pass at town meeting, it will allow a feasibility study and the hiring of an owner’s project manager, “so we can avoid the problem that we had with the fire station.” In that project, town meeting voted down a larger design done without benefit of an owner’s project manager, but approved it the next year after construction prices increased.

Selectmen voted unanimously to place the article on the annual town meeting warrant and to recommend its approval.

In other action Monday evening, selectmen endorsed 21 other articles for the warrant, including the town’s $144,333 share of the FY 19 Cape Cod Tech school budget, $85,000 to continue the advocacy effort in the dispute over the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge boundary, and $111,250 to help rebuild a taxiway at the airport.

Selectmen also endorsed 16 articles proposed by the Community Preservation Committee. In the area of affordable housing, the articles included contributions to the town’s affordable housing trust fund, planning monies, and support for the Cape Housing Initiative. Historic preservation projects on the agenda include the preservation of town documents, support for an archaeological dig at the historic Nickerson home site, and the repair and relocation of the Pioneer Memorial at the Eldredge Library. The board also endorsed two Marconi Center projects: one to restore artifacts, and another to conduct a structural assessment on the historic towers.

In the area of recreation projects, selectmen endorsed articles to make repairs at three tees at Seaside Links Golf Course, to install new bleachers at Veterans Field, and to purchase the boat landing on Bridge Street near the Mitchell River bridge.