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Design committee seeks a ‘green’ new Senior Center

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TOWNSEND — “We are moving. We’re just moving slowly because it takes time to get through the political stuff,” said Nancy Shepherd, chairman of the Senior Center Building and Design Committee.

Her group met Tuesday to discuss the status of plans building the new senior center.

The current center, leased on Main Street, has severe space limitations that limit the amount of activities that can be offered.

Three years ago, a new location for the Senior Center was planned on a piece of land behind the Highway Department, but a Sprint cell phone tower was built on the property causing delays on the project.

“The land doesn’t look as good as it looked before,” said member Russell Moore. “It’s a better place for the Highway Department to expand, but we’re not going to relinquish it until we have a new place.”

The committee has focused their attention on the Atwood property, owned by the town, as a new location.

Albert Atwood’s last will and testament left 27 acres of property to the town. Several acres are already taken up by the current Atwood Acres residential complex and planned senior housing additions, but it’s expected that there is enough land for a new senior center.

“We’re exploring options to have a map sketch through MRPC (Montachusett Regional Planning Commission),” said Shepherd.

The MRPC is a regional advisory board that assists towns in comprehensive planning. Among their services are Geographic Information System (GIS) maps at discounted rates.

“It goes to within six feet of accuracy,” said Shepherd of the map. “It’s not good enough for building, but it’s good enough to get us started.”

The GIS map would allow a better understanding of how much area was actually available. They can be drawn to show property, county and zoning boundaries, water and sewer services, electric lines, and even population and other demographic information.

Shepherd said she asked Selectman Maureen Denig to add the topic of a GIS map to the Board of Selectmen’s upcoming agenda.

While awaiting the selectmen’s response, the committee is continuing research into building a “green” Senior Center. A green building is designed to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

“There’s going to be more money for green. That’s one of the reasons why I was so motivated in that direction,” said Shepherd.

While Shepherd conceded that the senior center might not be 100 percent green, she said she was passionate about doing the best thing for the environment.

“If everyone did their piece we wouldn’t be in such bad (environmental) shape,” said Shepherd. “Even changing your light bulbs makes a difference.”

Moore said he would make an appointment with U.S Rep. John Olver to see what grant options were available.

Olver has introduced legislation encouraging green standards and was present at the opening of the current senior center.

Committee members agreed to continue researching different advances in green buildings and funding to share with each other when they reconvene.