Potential demolition looms for aging senior center
Published 12:55 pm, Tuesday, September 9, 2014
As each day passes, the former senior center at 30 Edgerton St. falls further into disrepair. It has been vacant since the seniors left the building in July and moved to the new Mather Center in Town Hall.
For more than a year, town boards have discussed potential uses for the building. Ideas have been proposed, but nothing has come to fruition.
One thing remains clear, however: The aging building is beyond repair and neighbors believe it is a potentially dangerous magnet for teenagers and vandals.
Members of the Middlesex Middle School Neighborhood Association came to Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting to press for demolition of the old building that they have described as "an attractive nuisance for the children and teens" in the area.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson told the board and members of the MMSNA that it is her hope to demolish the building.
"My opinion is that the building has long outlived its useful life and should be demolished," Stevenson said.
The board unanimously voted to spend $8,300 on a pre-demolition hazardous material survey on the building -- a necessary step regardless of the structure's future, said Town Administrator Karl Kilduff.
The fate of the property remains up in the air as the Board of Selectmen waits for the Board of Education to decide if it needs the property for potential building projects.
In the past, the Board of Education had asked for the opportunity to look at the property.
However, the school board is still in the process of identifying a company to conduct a facilities study for district buildings, which is the "first step" toward answering the Board of Selectmen, said Board of Education Chairman Betsy Hagerty-Ross.
The lack of a permanent superintendent also poses a problem, Hagerty-Ross said.
"It wouldn't be fair to have an answer for the selectmen when we're really making decisions for a superintendent that isn't here yet," Hagerty-Ross said. "That's the conundrum we're in. They keep asking us and I can't give them an answer because I don't know what the answer is."
Derek Lublin, a member of the MMSNA, told the selectmen that it appears there is a disconnect between the two boards.
According to Stevenson, the building will be winterized and the fire and security systems will remain active, as well as the lights. There is a police presence at the property and a staff member from the Department of Public Works checks the building once a day, Stevenson said.
Lublin told the board that he feels the property has been a "political football" between the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education, especially concerning the question of who will foot the bill for demolition.
"In the end, though, it's the same taxpayer who is paying for it," Lublin said.
Stevenson told the board and the audience that there is "no way" she would feel comfortable leaving the building standing as is.
"Our intent is to demolish the building," Stevenson said. "We made a promise to move forward on that."
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