Board of Selectmen Scrap Community Center ‘Campus Vision’ Due to Lack of Space At Site
The termination of the idea has unknown implications for the future of the Wellesley Senior Center.
An ambitious vision for the Wellesley Community Center, which would involve a new facility and the cooperation of multiple town organizations, was terminated at last night’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen.
The “campus vision,” which sought to incorporate the senior center, Wellesley Friendly Aid, and the Wellesley Service League, was knocked down due to lack of space, and issues with regard to handicap accessibility and parking, according to Selectman Terri Tsaragis.
“Each of the [groups] need more space than we originally anticipated,” she said. “That site cannot accommodate the needs of all the parties.”
The Board of Selectmen, Council on Aging, and Community Center Board of Directors collectively decided that no solution would solve the issues that would come with building a new facility on the plot of land located at 219 Washington St., which currently houses the Council on Aging offices and Senior Center. Because of the size of a new building, parking spaces would also be lost in the area, Tsagaris said.
Further complicating matters was the fact that Wellesley Friendly Aid owns the plot, and the Community Center is a 501c3 nonprofit, which operates independently of the town. In order to demolish the building and build anew, Tsagaris said the town would have to finance a disproportionate share of the costs without ownership or control of the facility.
“We would be asking the town of cover the costs for a building that would not be used for solely municipal purposes,” she said, adding that the cost would end up higher than if a stand-alone senior center were built.
Several members of the public observed this portion of the meeting and left instantly following the decision to dismiss the idea. The Selectmen carried a motion to abandon the plans by a unanimous, and in large part ceremonial, vote.
Selectman Barbara Searle reiterated Tsagaris’ point that the decision to terminate the plan was a matter of wrong place, wrong time.
“Everybody needed the space at the same time, so sharing wouldn’t be as possible,” Searle said.
Going forward, the Board of Selectmen will again meet with representatives of the Council on Aging to determine a new site – possibly the old American Legion site – and new possibilities with regard to a senior center.
“I think we’re walking away at this point knowing that we did try hard but there just wasn’t a viable solution there,” Searle said.