Mayor asks council to approve new Senior Center funding
By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough – Mayor Arthur Vigeant has requested that the City Council approve bonds totaling $9.5 million for construction of a new Senior Center and for renovations at Ward Park, where the center would be located. The request was made via a communication to the council at its Aug. 26 meeting.
Vigeant asked the council to approve two bonds – $6.5 million for the center's construction and $3 million for the renovation of the courts, fields and parking at Ward Park.
“After many discussions, hearings and planning over the past nine months, we have reached a point where I feel we have a design in place for a building that we all can be proud of,” said Vigeant in the communication.? “Ward Park has long been neglected and in dire need of investment and upgrading. The time has finally come to make a commitment to ensuring that Ward Park is given new life so that its potential can be fully utilized by families and groups of all ages and interests.”
The bond requests were referred to the Operations and Overview Committee for study and recommendation to the full council.
The mayor is proposing a facility to be built in the northeast end of the park that will have a footprint of 14,500 square feet. He unveiled a conceptual plan and building layout at a public information forum in June.? Architect Joseph Rizza made the presentation.
Vigeant said at that time that Ward Park is the best location because it offers seniors the benefit of a meeting place that is adjacent to recreational land and because it is city-owned, no land purchase price will be incurred. That will also help the timeline to completion be expedited, he added.
Strong objection to the Ward Park location has been voiced by residents in the immediate area, led by Paul Brodeur of Hayden Street and Michael Nickolas of Water Terrace.? Their objections are based on an Open Space and Recreation Plan which they say prohibits building on protected park land, such as Ward Park. The city's legal department and outside attorneys have stated the project, however, passes legal requirements.
Early in August, opponents to the proposed Senior Center announced that they are seeking financial contributions from the community to cover legal costs associated with their efforts to stop the center from being built at Ward Park.
Among other locations suggested for a Senior Center during the past 18 months were the former Department of Motor Vehicles building at 525 Maple St., the Meeting House on 86 Pleasant St., the former Post Office on Mechanic Street and an office building on Forest Street.
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