Weston Senior Center: Money OK’d, work begins

Estimates are in for the remodeling of the Weston Senior Center.Work began on Weston Senior Center renovation this week, after the boards of finance and selectmen approved on July 30 spending up to $85,000 on the project.

The supplemental appropriation was unanimously approved to cover what First Selectman Gayle Weinstein described in a letter to the finance board as “a mix of contractor pricing and architect’s estimates.”

The project will bring to fruition nearly a year of negotiating with the school district for more space and a longer term agreement for the Senior Center to remain on the school campus. It is currently housed in several classrooms in South House at Hurlbutt Elementary School and is allowed the use of 13 parking spaces in front of the building.

The new agreement expands the center to a total of six classroom spaces, plus exclusive use of a multi-purpose room, and gives it the use of 31 parking spaces. This will allow Senior Center programming to expand to accommodate its steadily increasing attendance.

Ms. Weinstein said construction of a wall separating the Senior Center space from the rest of the school building, which was required for security reasons, has been completed. The wall replaces what used to be locked doors, and was required under the terms of the new five-year memorandum of understanding between the school district and the town after the schools completed a security audit.

Other changes expected to take place over the next several weeks include:

  • Installation of a 30-foot wooden interior ramp. The town opted for this rather than concrete to allow it to be dismantled in the future if the building reverts to school use.
  • Reconfiguration of a steel support beam to allow an increase in ceiling height to comply with code requirements when the ramp is installed.
  • Blocking a doorway that will no longer be needed.
  • Construction of a new hallway to create a second egress, necessitated by the walling off of the former doorway at the end of the existing hallway.
  • Refinishing some interior classroom walls.
  • Installation of an exterior metal door with “panic hardware.”
  • Retrofitting two bathrooms with higher toilets, new sinks and mirrors, and grab rails. These “will not totally meet [handicapped] accessibility code requirements,” Ms. Weinstein said in her letter to the finance board; however, another bathroom in the center does meet those stricter requirements, “and that is deemed sufficient,” she wrote.
  • Air conditioning one of the three new rooms using a ductless wall system with an outside compressor. The multi-purpose room will not be air conditioned.
  • Replacement of some ceiling tiles and light fixtures.

The appropriation approved also allows for an $11,000 miscellaneous and contingency fund, and sets aside about $5,000 for new furniture.

Ms. Weinstein acknowledges in her letter that not all the newly acquired space is being renovated at this time. She said, however, the approved request “is sufficient to meet basic access, restroom, and code requirements … We have tried to provide a [funding] request which recognizes programmatic needs, allows us to build upon improvements in an incremental manner, but understands there is no long-term commitment that the space will continue to be available for its current use.”

In June, the selectmen and finance board also OK’d an appropriation of up to $39,583 to replace blacktop for use as a playground area behind East House at Hurlbutt as part of the Senior Center changes, and an additional appropriation for up to $18,000 to hire KG&D to provide architectural services for the remodeling project.

Ms. Weinstein said the intent is to finish the most disruptive construction work before school starts on Aug. 25.

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