WESTFIELD – The Senior Center at Mary Noble Estates is moving forward rapidly, with construction work projected to be completed by the end of September.
Council on Aging (COA) Executive Director Tina Gorman reported to the COA Board Monday that the building will be turned over to the city by the end of September. The city will need one to two months to install technology, assemble furniture and train staff on the operations in advance of the facility opening.
Gorman said that the COA board is also reviewing a needs assessment report, based upon a survey of senior citizens, completed by a Western New England University student intern this spring. The needs assessment was submitted earlier this summer to the COA Board.
Gorman said that additional staff will be hired to support the expanded programming at the senior center and the needs assessment may impact hiring to fill those new positions.
“The intern compiled an interest survey of what programs people are interested in being offered when we move into the new center,” Gorman said.
The Friends of the Westfield Senior Center also reported that the capital campaign is rapidly nearing the $400,000 mark. The Friends established a goal of raising $500,000 in support of the project, funds being raised through private donations.
The Friends established that fundraising effort to reduce the cost of construction and equipping the new facility. The new 20,000-square-foot facility is four times the size of the current center located on Main Street downtown and will need more furniture and accessories because of that larger space.
Gorman said the COA is “lobbying” the state for higher funding to support the new facility and programs which will be offered.
“The state grant is based upon the community’s senior population,” Gorman said. “We have 8,000 seniors in Westfield. The formula used by the state last year was $8 per senior for a total of $64,000 and this year we’re lobbying for $9 per senior for $72,000.”
Gorman said that the COA will submit the formal grant request to the state next week.
“The (Department of Elder Affairs) is waiting to see how much funding the Legislature is approving for the senior grants and asked us to hold off on submitting an application until they know what funding is available,” Gorman said.