Selectmen Reject Private Land For New Senior Center

By: Tim Wood

The Chatham Senior Center is being eyed for replacement because of its inadequate program spaces and its three-level design. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM – The board of selectmen has rejected pursuing private property for a new senior center.

At an executive session Monday evening, the board declined two proposals from private property owners that were the result of a request for proposals the town put for privately owned parcels that might be suitable for a new council on aging facility, according to a statement released Tuesday.

“Out of fiscal prudence, the board decided it will explore several town-owned properties, including the current location,” read the statement from the office of Town Manager Jill Goldsmith. “The board is committed to a public engagement process in selecting a COA location.”

After considering the two proposals, the board found neither to be a better option than available town-owned property.

The two privately owned parcels were a 1.9 acre site at 1610 Main St. owned by Eastward Companies and a 1.3 acre site at 889 Orleans Rd. owned by Susan Trask.

Last year, town staff identified two town-owned parcels on Middle Road as meeting criteria included in a space needs study for a new senior center. Although the current senior center on Stony Hill Road was found to be inadequate, redevelopment of the site was also included as a possible location for a new facility.

“The board felt that there was no need to expend significant funds to acquire private property as an overall site,” Chairman Dean Nicastro said in the statement. Staff has been directed to “test-fit” the town-owned sites for suitability for a new senior center, he said. “We look forward to bringing them for consideration to the public for discussion at a board meeting in the near future after we hear back from the staff.”

The space needs study by Bargmann Hendrie and Archetype recommended a new senior center of 14,000 to 16,000 square feet, based on a comprehensive needs assessment by the UMass Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging Gerontology Institute. That assessment found that the current center is too small to serve the needs of the town's growing senior population.