Southwick Senior Center receives new van

SOUTHWICK – On Thursday, the Council on Aging received their new transportation van. According to Council on Aging Director Cindy Sullivan, the van was ordered in late December.

The new van is a result of the Baker-Polito Administration announcing in August of 2016 that they would be awarding $28 million in Community Development Block Grants to 57 cities and towns throughout Massachusetts. Southwick and Granville received a combined grant of $900,000 with a portion of the funds to be used for the reconstruction of Veteran Street. That project received $479,000 of funding.

Since the Veterans Street project was completed and came in $69,000 under budget, a line item was created to transfer the remaining money to a project that is on the Town’s capital replacement list.

The brand new transportation vehicle for the Southwick Senior Center arrived on Thursday. (Photo from Cindy Sullivan)

On November 13, Erica Johnson of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) presented the program amendment to the Select Board which the Select Board then approved.

When the Select Board was informed of the proposed program amendment by Johnson and the PVPC, they had a list of projects and items that fall under the CDBG and chose to upgrade the van for the senior center.

It was decided by the town and Johnson that the $69,000 would go towards purchasing a new accessible passenger van for the Southwick Senior Center.

The old van was 13-years-old and lacked some basic safety measures such as back up cameras and navigation systems, items the new van will have.

The 14-passenger van is handicap accessible and cost $77,120.10. Sullivan said that the old van was becoming a safety concern and the brand new van will be a much smoother ride for both the driver and passengers.

“It’s very exciting,” said Sullivan. “It’s a nice van, it’s brand new.”

An important feature that new van has is a wheel chair ramp for handicapped seniors using the van. The older van wasn’t handicapped accessible, making it tougher on those who need a ramp to get into the van.

Mainly used to bring seniors to activities and monthly trips, the new van isn’t registered yet, but is expected to be registered and ready to go on the road at some point next week.  

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