Sunday, July 08, 2007

Senior Center Groundbreaking

Here are some pictures from Tuesday.
Senior Center President Charles Nelson in his commemorative T-shirt.
Police Chief Edward Santiago and driver Gary Van Liew assist seniors who took the bus to the site.

Most seniors marched from 305 East Front to 400 East Front.

Seniors assemble in the tent.

The T-shirt lists city officials and the Building Committee.

Developer Glen Fishman is financing the center and the 63 condos.


Surveyor Robert Necklen of Somerville marks boundaries for a construction fence.
Former center director Patty Bender raised a question to me on July 3 about the size of the new center.
"The elderly population keeps growing, but the size of the center, every time we hear about it, seems to be getting smaller," Bender said.
Bender said the current center is 8,000 sqaure feet with 7,000 square feet of basement storage.
"Storage is very important," she said.
For the record, there have been various dimensions mentioned over the months from the first announcement to the final site plan and agreement, both of which used the figure of 12,770 square feet. I have used that number in writing about the new center.
However, when it was first announced in July 2006, the figure given was 14,670 square feet. Patty Bender challenged that figure, saying it was approximately what the seniors had in the present center, counting storage.
Both reporters at the July event used 17,000 square feet in their stories, but that was the square footage for the rejected Tepper's basement site. Bob Bender used 14,670 square feet in an e-mail he circulated on the event.
A site plan submitted in November stated the size as 13,400 square feet. On Jan. 4, developer Glen Fishman said it was 12,000 square feet and an associate said it was 12,880 square feet.
But on Dec. 7 at the time of site plan approval, the figure was 12,770, as it was in the agreement between Dornoch Plainfield LLC , the city and the Union County Improvement Authority.
Patty Bender questioned my story for the Courier News, in which I used the final number. However, both Patty and Bob are on the Building Committee and have had a year to seek answers from the developer. Shoot the messenger if you wish, but I am sticking with the final number for purposes of reporting.
I asked officials what will become of the $600,000 in Urban Enterprise Zone funds that was committed to a new center when prior plans called for it to have a commercial component. The answer is that the funds will most likely just revert to the fund for other projects. The fund, made up of sales tax collected in the zone, may be drawn on for improvements within the zone, which stretches east and west roughly along Route 28 and includes the central business district.
Another pot of money, about half a million dollars committed to the Tepper's space, was supposed to be used by July 1. The last I heard, an extension is being sought. I do not have official details.
I hope today to visit the site of the proposed new center to see whether the fence is up and any equipment is on site. On Tuesday, Glen Fishman said construction was supposed to start Thursday with preparing the land beingthe first step.
--Bernice Paglia


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