Darien shuffle project costs to exceed prior estimates
Published 3:20 pm, Thursday, September 22, 2011
The costs of the "shuffle" project continue to rise as town officials debate the merits of moving forward.
The project, which was initially proposed to cost about $4.5 million, is now proposed to cost about $7 million. Architect Tom Acari said the need for a new senior center is necessary because the population of seniors in town will continue to grow. He estimated by the year 2030, the number of residents 55 and older would increase 60 percent which would account for 3,000 additional seniors in the community.
However, Democratic Selectman Callie Sullivan said even though the number of seniors who are 55 and older continues to grow, the number of seniors who are 65 and older has decreased over the past 10 years. She also pointed out that organizations like the YMCA also offer programs for seniors in town.
Acari said by attaching the senior center to Town Hall, there would enough room to run the current programs that are offered and there would be additional space to allow for more programs to be started.
First Selectman David Campbell told the Darien News there were a number of factors that contributed to the new price. When the original study was conducted, it was done as more of a fit study to see if the shuffle would work and did not focus as much on the work that would need to be done to the buildings, Campbell said.
"We're converting Town Hall to gas and we need to install sprinklers, as well as adding more bathrooms and showers," Campbell said. "The original proposal included using the art center, but we won't be using that space anymore and instead adding 850 square feet for a kitchen."
Campbell said the increase in the cost of the project is to be expected since it's part of the process and the shuffle is still cheaper than building a completely new senior center.
"The prices are very competitive right now and with bonding rates under 3 percent it makes it very attractive," he said about the shuffle project.
As part of the shuffle, the maintenance staff at Town Hall would be moved to the town garage which would improve efficiency, Campbell said.
In addition to more space for seniors, the senior center would also be available for other community members to use. Acari believed attaching the building to Town Hall, where many youth programs are conducted, would be beneficial to the entire community.
The estimated cost from Acari to tear down the existing Senior Center would be between $7 to $9 million, so it would be more cost-efficient for the town to do the shuffle.