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Grant money gives push to construction of senior center

SKETCH PAD ­— Renderings for a new town of Concord senior citizens center, to be built on Waverly Street in Springville, show a design that looks similar to the neighboring Orchard Senior Living apartments. The recent awarding of a $100,000 grant toward construction of the center means the project might be underway as early as this summer, according to Concord Town Supervisor Gary Eppolito. Renderings provided by Mark D. Alianelo, PE.
DRAWING IT UP — The southeast view of the new senior center, to be located on Waverly.
CONCORD — Capping off a 20-year push, the town of Concord is finalizing plans to construct a new senior center, to be located on Waverly Street. A $100,000 Erie County Community Development Block Grant, awarded just after Christmas, added to the project’s momentum.

The grant application, written by Concord Town Supervison Gary Eppolito, was submitted in October of 2013 and approved just after Christmas. The new building will serve as a place to meet, socialize and get active for the town’s seniors. Current programs are split between several locations.

“All of our senior programs are kind of spread out,” said Eppolito. “Right now, [for example], the town rents space at the [Springville Volunteer Fire Company] fire hall for our Concord dining site.”

Concord town hall, located at 86 Franklin St. in Springville, serves as a meeting place for area seniors. The building itself poses several potential problems for visitors: Adequate parking, a main hall that is drafty in the winter and stifling in the summer, no first floor bathrooms and an aging elevator – installed in 1979 by a company long out of business – that is not ideal for those facing mobility challenges.

“If there’s any major problem with the elevator, we’ve got a real serious problem here,” said the supervisor.

Several years ago, a committee was formed to address the issues facing the town hall.

“We started the process eight years ago. It was obvious the town hall was being overused – it still is,” said Eppolito. “We formed a committee to decide what we should do, as far as planning for the growth of the town. The committee looked at it and decided, we really need office facilities; people can’t find us, there’s no parking and so forth.”

To lessen the burden on the Franklin Street building – and to provide a more convenient location for the town’s seniors to socialize and get active – the committee decided to create a senior center.

“We looked at the whole situation,” said Eppolito, “evaluated it and said we need a senior center more than we need a town hall. We could live with the town hall the way it is.”

According to the supervisor, past committees, dating back some 20 years, had explored other options for a senior center, including renovation of, or relocation to, other buildings around town. But adequate parking and the need for appropriate facilities led town officials to settle on a new build.

“We got the committee together ... and we decided that the only real thing to do was to build a center. We looked at several buildings in town here. We looked at some properties. We engaged a realtor to look for us,” explained Eppolito.

The committee – consisting of Eppolito; town council members Paul Salzer and Deborah King; Mary Hubert, president of Concord Senior Citizens and Helen Smith, who supervises congregate dining for the town’s seniors – settled on a five-acre site on Waverly Street.

After hitting a snag in the closing process, the town was approached by People Inc., who expressed interest in developing senior apartments on the site. The site at 276 Waverly St. in Springville is now home to 42 senior apartments. And that, said Eppolito, dovetailed with the town’s plans for a senior center.

A plot adjacent to those apartments was also available and was purchased by the town for development.

“We needed something with adequate parking,” said Eppolito, “so we knew that we had to have a lot of space. And we also wanted to build in such a way that it could be added onto.”

Eppolito said a location within the village – convenient to a large portion of the town’s seniors – and with access to utilities, was important.

The building, designed by Mark D. Alianello, PE, will feature a 2,460-square-foot meeting and dining room, a commercial kitchen and a companion bathroom, designed to allow caregivers the space and privacy to assist seniors.

A rough budget for construction is pegged at over $1 million – about the cost of the Hulbert Library building.

“Last year, [the town of Concord] paid off the [Hulbert] library bond. We’re planning on using the money that we were using to pay off the library bonds and then we’ll convert that into the senior center. So this should not be a huge impact on the tax rate at all,” Eppolito explained.

He noted that the bond for the library, which cost approximately $1.3 million to build, cost the town $50,000 in bond payments per year.

Construction of the senior center “will be about the same cost, so if you’re looking at a 20-year bond, maybe 25 years, it’s the same thing – the tax rate shouldn’t be affected. We’re using that same funding,” added Eppolito.

The supervisor emphasized that the opening a senior center does will not result in the closing or relocation of the Concord town hall.

“This building isn’t going anywhere,” he said.

“The senior center is just pulling the seniors out of here and giving them a place of their own, where they can have their activities, with adequate parking and bathroom facilities, to do the things they haven’t been able to do, in this community.”

Eppolito noted that, when the building on Franklin Street was donated to the town, it was done so on the condition that it would remain open for the public.

“It was donated to the town forever to be in public use,” he explained. “The town hall is always going to be in the public. That’s the way it was given to the town.”

Eppolito said bids for the construction project should go out this spring, with construction on the center beginning as early as this summer.


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