Town Manager Jeff Hull Provides Updates On New Senior Center & Town Hall Projects; Recognizes Recent Town Retirees

Below is the latest “From The Manager’s Desk” column from the latest Town Topics Newsletter:

A big “thank you” to each of you for your patience and resilience over the past fifteen plus months living and working through the hardships, constraints and inconveniences associated with COVID19. This pandemic has been more disruptive across the full spectrum of the community than anything I can recall. While it may be a bit too early to declare victory, it appears we are coming through the far side of the storm.

Town Hall reopened to the public on May 17th. At present patrons are able to visit town offices during business hours without a mask if fully vaccinated. Residents who have not been fully vaccinated are encouraged to continue to wear a mask while in the building for their personal safety. Meetings of boards and committees are reverting back to in-person which is a welcome change for many. Patrons are welcome into the library with study tables and seating available. The senior center will continue activities outside under a tent that has been set up in the parking lot and will begin transitioning back into the Senior Center in July. Terri Marciello, Elderly Services Director, is in regular contact with the Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs about changing guidelines.

Silver Lake beach was open for lifeguard supervised use beginning June 12th. The Recreation Department, which oversees this program, continues to seek certified lifeguards. Individuals with lifeguard certification are strongly encouraged to contact that department at 978-658 4270 to learn more. As this Town Topics goes to print there has been a spate of drownings reported in eastern Massachusetts communities. When visiting the beach know your swimming abilities and limitations and be attentive to children and others in your group. Lifeguards clearly offer a significant measure of protection but cannot be solely responsible for personal safety.

September 11, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic events that unfolded in New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. The events of that day brought heartbreak to many and changed each of our lives forever. Plans are in the works to offer a solemn remembrance to the victims, their families and the emergency personnel charged with responding on that day and the days that followed. While details are still being finalized, plans call for a ceremony in the high school cafeteria/courtyard. A committee is developing the program details.

Based upon interviews conducted by the Senior Center Building Committee and negotiations with the recommended architectural design firm, Deitz and Company Architects, Inc. from Springfield, MA has been awarded the contract to conduct a feasibility study and schematic design for a new senior center. The firm was established in 1985 and has worked on many senior centers including for the towns of Ludlow and Longmeadow and the cities of Westfield and Marlboro.

In response to the recommendation of the Town/School Administration Building Committee, the firm of Johnson Roberts Associates, Inc. from Somerville, MA has been hired to provide similar services for a joint town/school administration building. Johnson Roberts worked on the Dracut Town Hall, Sturbridge Town Hall, Cambridge City Hall and many other municipal buildings across the state.

Both committees will be working with the respective architects and owners project manager (OPM) to assess the potential sites and develop the programmatic requirements before developing a design. Public input will be critical for developing final designs that gain the support of residents throughout the community.

“Hat’s off” to patrolmen Paul Krzeminski and Thomas McConologue for their collective service of over 53 years with the Town. Water Treatment Plant Operator David Shulters retired after 37 years of service and Barbara Raab, Children’s Librarian is retiring in August after 10 years of service. Best wishes to all for an exciting and healthy next stage.

What a difference a year makes. With the pandemic hopefully in steady retreat it is time to catch up with family and friends that we have only been able to connect with via telephone or Zoom. Best wishes for reconnecting in person…without masks.

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