New senior center speeds ahead with TM transfer voteBy Mike Berger
What began as an idea in January is on a fast track to becoming reality as town meeting voters approved two key budget transfers to pave the way for a new senior center on the grounds of the Knights of Columbus building at 500 Pleasant Street.
All that stands in the way of renovating the structure is a formal vote by Canton K of C membership scheduled for next week. This could lead to a formal purchase agreement between selectmen and the K of C.
John Friel, chairman of the Council on Aging, told the Citizen after Monday’s town meeting session that he has already talked with contractors who are ready to begin renovations. Friel said the COA should be ready to move into a new facility by Labor Day.
Friel expressed his appreciation to all the town departments (BOS, assessors, FinCom, and Building Renovations Committee) that worked expeditiously to review the request and prepare the article for town meeting.
On Monday, town meeting voters enthusiastically and unanimously approved two budget transfers to the COA: one for $200,000 from the assessors overlay account and another for $450,000 from a previous town meeting appropriation in 2005 for a new senior center next to the police station.
Selectmen Chairman John Connolly said the purchase price for the K of C building will be $450,000, and the $200,000 will go toward building renovations.
Friel acknowledged that the COA has saved another $400,000 in voluntary contributions and donations that will go toward the renovation and furnishings. Already, several businesses have contacted him with offers to help in the renovation effort. “No more tax dollars will be spent for this,” he said.
Friel, who is also a member of the K of C, feels confident that the membership will approve the transaction as it has already been approved by K of C leaders. He said the organization will probably find a new meeting location in a Canton church.
The formal article contained in the town’s capital plan authorizes $650,000 to be spent by selectmen for designing, permitting, constructing, and equipping a Canton Senior Center on town-owned land or other land. If the K of C proposal falls apart, the town meeting-approved article allows enough flexibility to enable the COA and selectmen to seek out another property.
Connolly, speaking before town meeting, said that while a brand-new building would have allowed seniors more space, such a building brings a price tag of $3-4 million. “Ideally, we wanted a bigger building but can’t afford that price,” he said. “But the time is right for this.”
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