The mayor proposes to the committee to study the new center for the elderly Meriden
MERIDEN — Mayor Kevin Scarpati has offered to form an ad hoc committee to explore the potential move and construction of a new Meriden senior center.
The existing senior center building at 22 W. Main St. is tightly squeezed between police headquarters and other downtown buildings occupied by several local businesses and nonprofits. The center’s parking lot is in front of its own building, making access difficult for members and providing little or no room for outdoor recreation.
Scarpati presented a resolution to City Council to create the Ad Hoc Senior Center Building Review Committee. The resolution notes that the current building was completed and opened in the 1970s and has not undergone any major renovations or upgrades in the past 25 years.
The resolution further states that the city is “dedicated to operating a modern and thriving seniors’ center, enabling residents to make full use of indoor and outdoor recreation, program and dining spaces.” He notes that the city also has the option of using funds available under the American Rescue Plan Act to conduct an architectural or engineering review for the construction of a new building.
“The time for a new center for the elderly is overdue,” Scarpati told the Record-Journal on Monday. “We really need to bring together a group that will focus solely on the needs of the older population in our community and look at how to retrofit a space that can be conducive to our older population – with both indoor and outdoor recreation programs and other options.
Scarpati added that similar facilities in surrounding communities provide these opportunities for their residents, while the footprint of the current building has limited the ability of senior center staff to offer similar programs.
Scarpati noted that staff have “done a wonderful job” providing service despite current limitations. The center itself is underutilized, although the city has about 18,000 elderly people, almost a third of the city’s total population.
During city budget deliberations last March, Scarpati said he would like to see the city use some of its more than $36 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to study the potential for relocating the center. for the elderly.
Scarpati said Monday that he would like to see the city pursue construction of a facility that is “more flexible, one that doesn’t span multiple floors” and doesn’t present the challenges the existing center faces, including high-speed vehicles. important and potentially dangerous engine. Traffic.
The board’s social services committee will review Scarpati’s proposal before deciding whether to recommend to the board as a whole to take action on it.
Scarpati said he hopes the committee, if formed, will develop an understanding of the city’s options, as well as the needs of the community.
“They will be responsible for organizing different forums and focus groups to get feedback from our population and our seniors group, on what they would like to see in a seniors center,” Scarpati said.
The costs of this undertaking and the identification of funding sources will also form part of the study costs.
Councilmen Bruce A. Fontanella and Bob Williams Jr. seem to agree with Scarpati’s proposal.
Fontanella said it’s a conversation he looks forward to.
“The senior center now, the downsides are that it’s hard to get to, and I believe there are two floors, making it difficult for older people to navigate between the first and second floor” , did he declare.
Williams also said the current facility is “not conducive” to meeting the needs of seniors.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea for our seniors,” Williams said of the idea of moving and building a new center.
Meriden resident Dan Zaborowski is among those who have strongly pushed city officials to pursue a new center.
The center is underutilized because it lacks accessibility, especially for older people with mobility issues, Zaborowski said.
“The reason people don’t go there is the traffic. People don’t want to get killed, crossing the street or in a wheelchair,” Zaborowski said. “There’s no real entrance…it’s doable for people.”