Long-Awaited Senior Center Plans Gel Ahead of Manchester Annual Town Meeting


Voters at this year’s Annual Town Meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, April 24, will be asked to approve purchasing part of the Mason Building for the establishment of a center for Seniors.  The plans call for the building to be expanded and renovated with the Mason’s and the Town both owning parts of the building in a new condominium arrangement.  Both entities win in this new partnership – the Mason’s will get a newly renovated space and funds for future expenses while the Town gets versatile space for a range of programs for seniors.

The Mason’s building is an ideal location for the Senior Center. It is in the center of town, has plenty of parking, and sits up high enough to avoid storm surges. The plans call for expanding the existing dining room by adding space toward the wastewater treatment plant. This larger space will become the new ceremonial room for the Masons. The current ceremonial room will become part of the new Senior Center. (The Mason’s will use this space for their functions when needed, typically once a month).  The large room will have the flexibility of serving as a large hall for meals and other big gatherings as well as
being made into smaller spaces for different senior program needs.

A new addition is planned that will provide office space and small meeting/activity rooms for the Council on Aging. This addition will be added between the existing building and the parking lot. Some additional parking can be added here as well. This new addition will serve as the main entrance to the Senior Center. Preliminary sketches have been drafted and will be fine tuned as we get closer to the actual construction date.  

Voters will be asked to appropriate $1,000,000 for the purchase of the Town’s share of the building with half of the funds coming from our fund balance and half from taxation. For the planned renovations and addition, a fundraising campaign will be undertaken to raise the funds from private donations. The goal is to raise over $2,000,000. Individuals have already expressed a desire to donate significantly to this campaign.

If all goes well, the new Center should be operational within 2-3 years. In the meantime, COA programming can start in the existing space that the town can share with the Mason’s.

Creating a space for older residents has been a goal for many years. Numerous earlier efforts were not successful but this effort is coming together nicely. The Masons have been very helpful throughout the discussions.  It is a big decision for all involved.  Residents over 60 are the
fastest growing cohort of the town and represent approximately 40 percent of all residents. Manchester is only one of about a dozen of the 351 Massachusetts communities that do not have a senior center. Voters will have an opportunity to change this when they take up the Senior Center article at the ATM to approve this exciting project.

The Select Board will host upcoming information sessions on this and other Annual Town Meeting articles during April.