As the town begins the process of constructing a new senior center, with a contractor to be picked sometime in February, the Friends of the Needham Elderly have begun their efforts to raise $600,000 to enhance the building with additional computers, exercise equipment and other upgrades.
Though the town $8.5 million for the construction and basic furnishing of the building, the additional funds will add to the new senior center, making it “as good as it can be,” according to Jamie Brenner Gutner, executive director of the Needham Council on Aging.
The Friends had always planned to organize a fundraising effort to help with the project, and members of the group were ready to go the day after Town Meeting members approved the construction funds on Nov. 7, Gutner said.
Just after Thanksgiving, the fundraising committee mailed out requests to 12,000 Needham homes and businesses, according to Ted Pierce, who chairs the committee with Denise Garlick.
As of this week, the commitee had received about 150 responses, Pierce said.
has signed on as a principal donor, and the committee is appealing to other local businesses as well, he added.
And though the group is thankful for the donations already made, they are hoping for a bigger response.
“We’ve got a long way to go before we get to $600,000,” Pierce said.
Residents wanting to donate can give any amount, with special recognition for those who fall within a certain donation level. Those who contribute the highest amounts—Benefactors, at $2,500 or more; Sponsors, at $1,000 or more; and Patrons, at $500 or more—will be recognized on a plaque that will hang in the new senior center. Those who donate $250 and up will have their names featured on wall tiles distributed throughout the building, Pierce said.
Donations, made out to “Friends of the Needham Elderly,” can be mailed to the , 83 Pickering St., Needham, MA 02492.
While will pay for design, construction and basic furnishings for the new building—creating a complete structure that will be ready to go on opening day—the $600,000 “enrichment fund” will help expand the resources available at the senior center, Pierce said.
“It will be used for computers, exercise and fitness equipment, audiovisual and media equipment, pianos, additional landscaping, upgrades to the kitchen, dining room and program rooms and for and outside second-floor garden patio area,” Pierce said.
With construction expected to begin early this spring, the Friends are hoping to make a big dent in their fundraising goal so that at least some of the enhancements can be included in the original project scope. However, those enhancements that cannot be funded at this time can be added later, Pierce said.
The Permanent Public Building Committee recently completed the prequalification process for contractors—reviewing prospective contractors to make sure they have the appropriate experience and qualifications to do the job. The town is expected to put out a request for proposals later this month, with bids to be opened at a PPBC meeting in February, Gutner said. Once a contractor is set, the project will get underway, with the first shovel to go in the ground as soon as the weather allows.
“They’re looking at occupancy hopefully by the summer of 2013,” Gutner said of the PPBC.
The new senior center will be located at the corner of Hillside Avenue and West Street, just west of the tracks. The 20,000-square-foot building will feature a 3,000-sq.-ft. multipurpose area on the ground floor with seating for 250 (150 for sit-down dinners), as well as several program spaces, a fitness room, art room, library, office spaces, meeting rooms and open-air roof deck on the second level.