SOMERS — Officials are discussing a timeline for the eventual construction of a community center that would provide recreational opportunities for residents of all ages.
The idea of replacing the center for 30-year-olds with a modern, expanded facility that would meet the needs of everyone in town and not just those 55 and older is not new, officials said at the a Breeders’ Council meeting at City Hall last week.
The center of a room has gaps and is not up to code, Public Works Director Todd Rolland said during a conversation about the timing of funding such a project with an HVAC system for the schools.
Additionally, some residents have told officials that although they are in the age group intended for the center’s population, they do not use it because of the name “senior” and its connotations, said Maureen Parsell. , director of recreation and leisure services.
“The center doesn’t meet today’s needs or what most communities are heading towards,” Rolland said. The idea of a community center has been on his “wish list” for several years, he said, and especially since the city learned it would receive funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Rolland and Parsell met with city staff to discuss a possible community center. They believe the solution to better serve the whole community is to build a facility where seniors would be the priority during the day, while others could use it during daylight hours and especially in the evening.
The new center would potentially have multiple rooms so multiple programs could be going on at the same time, and an indoor track so people could walk or run safely, especially during the winter months.
Space in school gymnasiums is limited, especially during the winter months, and many groups have been unable to access them for recreational purposes, Rolland said.
So far, he said, the city has issued a request for qualifications this spring and has chosen GWWO Architects to work with on a potential community center.
He said the next step is to hear from the cabinet on a proposal from his services. The proposal will include space assessment and design services, site analysis, design phase, construction cost estimates and proposed schedule.
Details will be discussed with residents, city staff and those using the facility.
The proposal will go to selectors on September 1 for approval, then go to the Finance Council for consideration for funding.
Then the project would go to the referendum in November.
Coach William Meier III said he was not against the concept of a community center but believes a September deadline is too early for the board to make a decision. He asked how many staff would be needed for the community center and the exact cost.
Rolland said the city would not know the size of a community center and therefore could not yet respond to the number of staff needed or the precise cost.
“We’re just at the start and don’t have a plan yet,” he said. “We’re guessing the size Somers would be comfortable with. We need to bring in an architect, talk to all parties and look at the design and what we could afford.
Meier said he believed the proposal would fail in the referendum and said the city missed its window to bond for the facility. “What will interest rates look like when we move to bonds?” He asked. “It’s half an idea. We are not ready.