Concept Plans Revealed For Simsbury Senior Center Renovations

Concept plans for renovations to Simsbury’s senior center call for accessibility upgrades and exterior repairs, among other improvements.

Raymond A. Giolitto, of Northeast Collaborative Architects, detailed draft plans for renovations at Eno Memorial Hall to the board of selectmen last month.

In October, the board of selectmen authorized First Selectman Lisa Heavner to issue a new charge to the public building commission: to reconsider Eno as the primary site for the senior center, with some programming space at the Simsbury Public Library.

As presented, much of the existing building, constructed in the early 1930s and previously home to town offices, would be repurposed for spaces like offices, health screening rooms and accessible restrooms. Parking options have also been expanded.

Giolitto said the low end of the project cost is $1.26 million, while a full-scale renovation would be closer to $5.3 million.

A midrange plan, estimated at $3 million, would complete accessibility upgrades and exterior repairs, but would only allow for partial completion of the building’s HVAC system or an addition.

The renovations have been factored into Heavner’s recommended capital improvement budget, which will be presented to the board of finance this month.

Committees since March 2015 had been focusing on the Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center, on Iron Horse Boulevard, as the primary site for a new senior and community center.

However, a new facility would have added about $145,000 in annual operating costs to the town budget, likely increasing the tax rate, Heavner said last fall. With the recent turmoil over the state budget, and the town planning for a net loss of $900,000 next fiscal year, that’s a risk they cannot take, Heavner said.

Early last year, the town paid $8,000 for a 24-page report, compiled by Manoj Pardasani of Fordham University‘s graduate school of social services. The report provided design recommendations for a new facility, as well as program suggestions in three major areas: fitness and wellness, continuing education and performing arts, and volunteer opportunities.

Pardasani recommended that the senior center consider collaborating with the performing arts center; the culture, parks and recreation department; and local businesses to develop activities and programming.

After a public hearing on the senior center in February 2015, the board of finance asked the town to survey residents to determine the nature and scope of support for different senior center options.

The survey, completed by research firm GreatBlue, indicated that people hoped the new senior and community center would include families and children as well as seniors. The firm surveyed 400 residents.