Officials pare back plans for new senior center in Hadley

  • A front view of the planned senior center in Hadley. GAZETTE STAFF—Jack Suntrup

  • Current schematic drawings for the planned senior center in Hadley. GAZETTE STAFF—Jack Suntrup

  • Members of the Senior Center Building Committee go over design options at their meeting on Thursday, June 1, 2017. GAZETTE STAFF—Jack Suntrup

  • The current design of the new senior center planned for Hadley. GAZETTE STAFF—Jack Suntrup

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

HADLEY — The committee in charge of a new town senior center on Thursday instructed architects to examine a pared-back version of the project, the result of initial cost estimates coming in $1 million over budget.

Voters approved a new senior center under a Proposition 2½ override in January, but costs must remain below a $5.3 million limit. Much of the overrun is due to higher-than-expected costs for site work behind the old Hooker School; officials planned for $300,000 in costs but those could push over $1 million.

Initial plans called for a 12,000-square-foot structure with more than 90 parking spaces and underground stormwater drainage systems. But in a meeting Thursday, committee members chose to look at a 9,500-square-foot building, eliminating an arts and crafts room, conference room, space for exercise equipment and a game room.

Spared would be an office suite, a large room for dining and events, a lounge and library, room for a nurse, restrooms, a classroom and an exercise room.

A new design, by EDM Architects, could also incorporate a swale stormwater drainage system and fewer parking spaces, potentially saving money.

The current senior center has about 50 parking spaces, but Suzanne Travisano, the town senior services director, said more would be necessary at a new senior center that is more attractive and accessible to seniors with mobility challenges.

“We want the optimum number (of parking spaces) we can get with the drainage system that is less expensive,” she said.

The design could allow a “Phase II” for the future, which would require voter approval and include the rooms that could be cut from the first design.

It is unclear how much money a new design could save. A new design and revised cost estimates could be ready in a month, Travisano said.

She added officials would strive not to sacrifice quality in pursuit of cost savings. The design, she said, would still offer seniors an inviting atmosphere, in a one-story building that is handicapped-accessible with wide hallways.

The centerpiece would be the library/lounge and large dining room, which would be visible as soon as visitors enter the building.

The new center is planned for a field behind the former Hooker School (and current senior center) on Middle Street. Groundbreaking was planned for October, but that is likely to be pushed back because of design revisions.

Jack Suntrup can be reached at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.