Final public forum on Shelburne Falls Senior Center options set for Monday

  • The Senior Center located in the Masonic building in Shelburne Falls serves residents of Shelburne, Buckland and Ashfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 11/16/2019 12:03:35 AM
Modified: 11/16/2019 12:03:20 AM

SHELBURNE FALLS — The last in a series of three public forums on site placement for a new Senior Center will be held Monday at 6 p.m. in Ashfield Town Hall.

The second forum, held on Nov. 12, started with a presentation that evaluated the six potential sites, given by George Dole of Jones Whitsett Architects, the firm that is evaluating the sites for the Senior Center Expansion Committee.

Jones Whitsett Architects recommends a space of 8,200 square feet, which is more than double the existing 3,600 square feet, Dole said.

The presentation highlighted four primary sites: Buckland Police Station, Mountain Lodge of Masons, Mole Hollow Candle building and a Shelburne-owned lot adjacent to the Arms Academy.

The two additional sites “have received consideration as alternates in the case that the first four do not pan out,” Dole said. They are a plot of land near Cowell Gym and Highland Village Properties in Shelburne, and another plot at the corner of Mechanic and Church streets that may also use some of the Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School’s fields.

During his hour-long presentation, Dole showed current pictures of each property, plus projected floor layouts if the new Senior Center were to be there. Dole outlined pros and cons of each location and included projected costs.

New construction would be required at the Arms Academy lot, the Mole Hollow Candle building would need to be renovated, and both the Buckland Police Station and the Masonic building would require both renovation and expansion, Dole explained.

The projected cost of each is as follows: Buckland Police Station at $3.35 million; the Masonic building at $3.48 million; the Mole Hollow Candle building at $4.1 million; and the Arms Academy lot at $4.76 million dollars. Projected costs for the alternate sites were not given.

Following Dole’s presentation, the question-and-answer session drew a variety of comments from residents. For some, the presentation lacked financial information that they viewed would help them to make their decisions.

“I would like to see (a slide) that says ... the best and worst case scenarios (and) what the total impact may be,” said John Walsh, of Shelburne.

Sylvia Smith, chair of the Senior Center Expansion Committee, explained that current numbers are used in their projections and that “the next step will involve more in-depth cost analysis.”

A few people voiced opposition to the Arms Academy lot.

“I live in the neighborhood. I would hate to see that open space (disappear),” Jackie Walsh said.

Lastly, two surveys were available for presentation attendees to fill out. A short, one-page-long survey asks for preference rankings on the six sites. A longer, 18-question survey looks at a variety of features for each site, such as parking, ownership models and accessibility.

“One is subjective, it’s really about your personal preference,” John Walsh said of the short survey. “One is objective, taking aside your emotional feelings” about the site, to evaluate site criteria.

Hard copy materials, such as printed slides from the presentation and the two surveys, are available at Ashfield, Buckland and Shelburne town halls, as well as at the Senior Center. All of the materials can be found digitally at bit.ly/2CPdWa0. The presentation is labeled as such, the “scorecard” refers to the short survey and the “scoring matrix” refers to the long survey.

All surveys are due by 3 p.m. on Dec. 3, and require a signature to be considered, Smith said. Survey responses will be tallied by Jones Whitsett Architects, which will present the results on Dec. 5.

Surveys can be returned to the Senior Center or mailed to Jones Whitsett Architects, 308 Main St., Greenfield, MA 01301.

Reach Maureeen O’Reilly at 413-772-0261, ext. 280 or moreilly@recorder.com.




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