Senior Center architect selected


WESTFIELD – The City has selected an architectural team to design the proposed 20,000-square-foot, two-story senior center.
Council on Aging Executive Director Tina Gorman said Tuesday that Mayor Daniel M. Knapik said a contract was signed for the architectural services Monday after other city departments, including the Purchasing and Law departments, reviewed the language late last week.
The city selected a proposal submitted by two firms working in collaboration. Dietz & Company Architects of Springfield is teaming up with Courtstreet Architects of Newton, which has designed several senior centers constructed recently in the state.
“It’s actually the best of both worlds,” Gorman said. “Courtstreet has experience designing senior centers, but is at the other end of the state, Dietz is a local company, which will improve communication.”
Gorman said the Senior Center Building Committee visited senior centers across the state as part of the process of selecting an owner’s project manager, then an architect.
“We toured a number of new facilities, including projects Courtstreet had done,” Gorman said. “I was impressed with their designs and thought they’d be a good fit for the City of Westfield.”
“The Courtstreet designs are simple, aesthetically pleasing, very functional and very welcoming, which is what we want,” Gorman said.
Gorman said the timeline for design and construction are still clouded by the site issue, although that is being resolved, slowly.
That issue is the Building Committee selected the Mary Noble Estate on Noble Street. That property, adjacent to the Westfield Housing Authority’s Ely-Dolan Apartments, was left in Noble’s will to the housing authority to be used for the residential benefit of senior citizens.
The construction, or even concept, of senior centers was not en vogue when Mary Noble wrote her will, so the language of the will neither specifically allows nor prohibits that use.
The city’s Law Department in currently in the process of appealing to Probate Court to determine if the language of the will, as written, can be extended to include the benefit to senior citizens of a senior center which would allow the city to increase programs and services offered to senior residents.
“So the timeline is loose because we’re still working on that legal issue concerns the use of the Noble Property,” Gorman said.

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