Wilmington Elderly Services Director Terri Marciello Provides Update On New Senior Center Project

Below is an update from Wilmington Elderly Services Director Terri Marciello, published in the Senior Center’s latest Buzzell Buzz newsletter:

WILMINGTON, MA — The Senior Center Building Committee and the Town Hall/School Administration Building Committee along with the architects for both projects and our OPM met with the Board of Selectmen on September 27, 2021. The Selectmen wanted the Committees to look at the possibility of the new Senior Center and Town Hall both being located at Glen Road at the site of the present Hall. The Selectmen also raised concerns about parking and conflicts with other activities at the Swain Green site. The Selectmen also requested further study on potential building layouts on the sites and further vetting of the sites. In addition, the Selectmen wanted to make sure there was adequate public outreach. Both committees and architects proceeded to addressed these concerns.

A site walk was held at the St. Dorothy’s site by a group of seniors on November 29, 2021.

On November 30, 2021, the Senior Center Building Committee held a meeting at the Town Hall before an overflow crowd of seniors. After a presentation by the project architect and a long discussion of the merits of the 3 potential sites, the Committee voted 5-2 for the new Senior Center to be located at the St. Dorothy’s site. This vote reaffirmed the ranking of the sites developed at the joint committee meeting held on September 15, which was discussed in our October Newsletter.

On December 14, 2021, Selectwoman Judy O’Connell, accompanied by Terri Marciello, George Hooper, Chair of the Senior Center Building Committee, Diane Allan, a member of that committee and Ken Clarkin, Chair of the Elderly Services Commission, took a tour of the Senior Center. Selectman O’Connell wanted to get a better understanding of the building and programming deficiencies.

On December 16, 2021, Town Manager Jeff Hull attended the monthly meeting of the Elderly Services Commission. In addition to Commission members, there were a dozen seniors in the audience. Mr. Hull gave an explanation of why construction of a public building takes so long. He also addressed concerns about a Special Town Meeting on March 8, 2022 for a Feasibility Study for a new school and its potential impact on the construction of the new Senior Center. The School Department has received an offer of a grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) but they have to meet certain dates, which is the reason for the Special Town Meeting. Mr. Hull estimated that any construction of a new school could be 5 years down the road and will not adversely impact the schedule of a new Senior Center. In response to questions from the audience regarding linking the new Senior Center and the Town Hall/School Administration building in one article for a Town Meeting vote, he indicated that they could be separate articles but the final decision is up to the Board of Selectmen. Several audience members were firm in their remarks that each project should stand on its own merits and be voted as separate articles. Mr. Hull expects that both projects would be ready for a Special Town Meeting in the Fall of 2022. The Commission and the audience thanked Mr. Hull for meeting with them.

The next step in the process will be for the Town Hall/School Administration Building Committee to meet and review their architect’s proposed layouts for the 3 sites and vote on the preferred site. That could happen at their meeting on December 20 or in early January. Both committees would then meet with the Board of Selectmen, hopefully in January, to discuss their recommendations.

[Editor’s Update: The Town Hall/School Administration Building Committee met on January 5, 2022 and selected the Swain School site as the preferred site. The Selectmen will discuss site selections for both projects at its next meeting on January 10, 2022.]

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