Finance Committee members spoke in favor of the new $7 million senior center proposed to be built in Ward Park prior to unanymously recommending the City Council approve $500,000 towards the design of the center.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about moving this project forward," said Mayor Arthur Vigeant as he adressed the committee.
He explained that the decision on the location had been years in the making after exploring many other options. A civil engineer has done an initial evaluation of the property, while the city solicitor confirmed that the city would be able to build on the property. The $500,000 would go towards securing an Owner's Project Manager and ensuring the work can move forward as fast as possible, said Mayor Vigeant.
Committee Member Joseph Delano asked that the council be involved in the design before it moves too far along for input.
Member Matt Eldridge said that while he does have constituents who are concerned about the location, overall he and many in the area are in favor of the project. He said he would want discussions with residents in the area to be ongoing to obtain their feedback on the project.
Committee Chair Michael Ossing said that this comes at a good time for the city financially.
"I think we are in a position where we can afford it with a minimum impact on the taxpayer,” he said.
The mayor said this will also be a good opportunity for the sports programs that take place at the park. There will be meetings going forward to discuss options for sports programs throughout the city, said Mayor Vigeant.
"They have outgrown ward park over the last few years," he said of the football program in particular. "That is a great opportunity to move them."
Committee Member Mark Oram said this is an opportunity for the community and sports. Recently completed senior centers that have features for community members of all ages were mentioned by various councilors throughout the meeting. This could be an opportunity to have sports facilities on the first floor, said Oram as an example.
"I look at this as an opportunity," he said.
The money order could be presented to the council for a vote as early as their Dec. 3 meeting.