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Council on Aging Aims to Privately Fund New Senior Center

Supporters unveiled plans to the Dedham Board of Selectmen on Thursday.

The Dedham Council on Aging unveiled plans Thursday to the Board of Selectmen for a new 8,000-square-foot senior center on the property of the .

"It is very much in its preliminary stages right now," said COA chair Leanne Jasset.

Plans call for an expansion to a barn located between the main building and the . Supporters are looking to privately raise a vast majority of the estimated cost of the project - $2.5-$3.5 million - through fundraising, instead of relying on taxpayer funds.

A feasibility study was conducted using a private donation.

Dedham voters denied an $8.65 million taxpayer-funded senior center in June 2008. However, the Council on Aging will have to go through a public procurement process in order to take control of the building.

Selectman Sarah MacDonald recommended the COA focus on the programming needs and benefits of the new building, rather than the physical makeup of a new center.

"I really believe that what happened [in 2008] was the disconnect between vision of programming and a physical building," MacDonald said. "Drawing that is really going to explain to people why this is [needed]."

The COA  last year on what programming Dedham seniors want.

"We are optimistic that we will be successful," Jasset said.

Architects said they would find ways to allow access to the senior center without disrupting access to the library or the main building. 

Initial plans, while in its infancy, call for keeping the historic barn and utilizing that space plus an addition for a fitness area, meeting and office space and other program-specific rooms.

"We're not trying to go and make a very grand statement with some type of new architecture on the site," said Brad Dore, an architect for the project.

The new senior center would have one floor, which paired to less site work, drives down the cost of the building, said Dore.

"It's centrally located, so we tried to be sympathetic to the neighborhood," Dore said. "It is something that should not - at least in our opinion - be something that is going to create a dramatic change in the environment in the neighborhood."

By locating a new senior center next to the Endicott Estate, it could improve the use of the main building and the library by incorporating programs and utilizing space, where applicable, Dore said.

"Being able to utilize the gardens, the greenhouse - all of those functions really seem to go and lend itself and work well with the senior center," Dore said.

Selectman Carmen Dello Iacono suggested project officials and COA members meet with neighbors in the Endicott Estate area to gather their feedback before moving forward.

"I do think that is the best looking building I've seen in a long time," Dello Iacono said. "With the end of this whole process, with the neighbors' input, we'll see, but that is very attractive."

domenic stagno February 14, 2012 at 05:44 PM
A senior center on the grounds of the Endicott Estate is the perfect location for it! It is on town land so the land will not have to be purchased and bravo to Council on Aging for stepping up to the plate for funding. Although the Endicott Estate is a town treasure which i would not like to see go away, it has remained a "white elephant"! It doesn't see much use and doesn't generate real income. The senior center will bring much needed vitality to the Estate! Domenic Stagno

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