GROTON – Senior citizens and community groups will soon have a newer, more-accessible hub to use this fall as the Groton Senior Center, renamed The Groton Center, is about a month away from being finished.
Peter Cunningham, chair of the Senior Center Building Committee, showcased much of the outside steel work and other exterior work to the new one-floor building expected to be under 11,000 square feet. Seniors and local residents will still swing by 163 West Main St. to visit the new facility that occupies the same space as the original senior center, which was half the size of the new building.
“One of the goals in this project was to make the senior center more accessible,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said all that remains is the completion of the building’s inner flooring, walls, painting and light fixtures. The construction is set to be completed in mid-October, with a dedication ceremony scheduled for Nov. 2.
Cunningham pointed out the “more durable” Hardie board siding covering the outside of the center. He also noted the canopy stretched out from above the building’s front entrance, allowing visitors to drive up and walk into the center without being hit by rain or snow. There was also a small, multi-windowed top section Cunningham said will allow more natural light into the senior center.
The new facility’s front entrance will lead guests to a large alcove area at the front of the building, which Cunningham said is meant to be a sitting and reading area for visitors.
Center Director Kathy Shelp noted that large blue wall seen at the alcove that wraps around the inner-center of the building. She said that the front of the wall facing the building’s entrance will feature an art gallery with material from rotating artists, while the back of the wall facing the back of the building will be dedicated to local veterans and sponsored by Rollstone Bank & Trust.
To the right of the alcove will be the main assembly and dining area, which Cunningham described as a multi-purpose room with a kitchen in the back, fold-able tables to make sitting areas for dining and a “very durable” floor. That floor also includes vinyl tiles allowing the room to be re-purposed as a pickleball court.
Shelp also noted a drop-down screen and projector set to be installed for presentations and movies, along with a five-foot high Scrabble board to the side of the room.
Along with the main assembly room are four other function rooms throughout the building, which Cunningham said will be for classes like aerobics, art and strength training. Cunningham noted that the new center has enough space to host events for the likes of local Boy Scout troops or the Groton Public Library, along with public hearings put on by the town.
“The old senior center had one large multi-purpose room, but it couldn’t accommodate certain programs,” he added. “When we did a needs assessment and came up with an approximate number of what we needed, we knew from the old building that we did not have enough space.”
While the building has no basement, it will have a staircase leading to a small storage space. The rest of the space in the building will consist of office space for Shelp, staff and volunteers. The rest of the land the center sits on will feature around 95 to 100 parking spaces for visitors.
The lot next door to the senior center lot features a small pond and a building that formerly housed the Squannacook Sportsmen’s Club. Cunningham said the building committee is planning to work with the Conservation Committee to see if the lot space could be converted into a walking trail path leading to a possible picnic pavilion.
“I think this is going to give us more flexibility for programming in the community,” Cunningham said.