Senior Center agenda pushed

WESTFIELD – The Council on Aging senior center building committee is planning to meet every other week to push the design of the new facility and develop cost estimates based upon that design and per-footage construction rates.
COA Executive Director Tina Gorman and COA Chairman John Leary Jr., reported yesterday to the COA board that the designers are trying to resolve several issues and that further discussion of those issues is slated for the meeting that will be held in the South Middle School library tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.
Gorman said that two of the issues are related to how the 20,000-square-foot facility will be sited on the property of the Mary Noble estate, which is now under city ownership. That rectangular, 2.3-acre parcel runs north-to-south along Noble Street.
One issue is the presence of a storm drain right-of-way which passes west to east through the property near the northern lot line, pushing the location of the building toward the center of the property, well beyond set-back requirements of the city’s zoning codes.
The fact that the building, as initially designed, is pushed toward the center of the parcel means that access drives are a tight radius, an issue for emergency vehicles, in particular fire trucks, to gain access into and out of the facility.
Principal City Planner Jay Vinskey said at the Aug. 1, 2013 meeting that the city controls both the right-of-way and the property, which makes it simpler to move the drainage and shift the building site northward, increasing the turning radius of the access drives.
Gorman said that Brian Pearly of the Law Department plans to attend tomorrow’s meeting to discuss the right-of-way issue and the options available to address that situation.
Leary said yesterday that further investigation has revealed that the in-ground oil tanks were removed when the former Noble residence was demolished following a fire.
“The Housing Authority records indicate that the buried tanks were removed,” Leary said. “An the soil sampling indicated that there was no (oil) pollution from the tanks, so that’s very good news.”
Members of the senior center building committee will continue discussion of the building design and siting with Frank Kennedy and Tim Singleton of Diversified Project Management of Newton, the city’s project manager, and with two architects from two firms working in collaboration. Dietz & Company Architects of Springfield that has teamed up with Courtstreet Architects of Newton. Courtstreet has designed several senior centers recently constructed in the state.
Gorman said yesterday that the building committee asked the architects to incorporate several design changes to improve the usage of the building by seniors, including moving the proposed cafe from the rear of the building (north wall near the kitchen) to the front of the building (south wall) which will be a glass wall.
The initial design included 122 parking spaces toward the south end of the parcel, and further discussion of whether the building will have a full or partial basement, or be constructed on a slab, a discussion that has considerable impact on the cost of erecting the two-floor building, is planned for tomorrow.

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