BERLIN – The town took a big step toward its future Senior and Community Center this week, establishing a committee to handle the project.
Berlin began planning for the possibility of a new facility in early 2019 but was delayed. The formation of a Community/Senior Center Project Sub-Committee represents progress on this front, elected officials agreed.
“This has been winding its way through the town process and covid didn’t help us with the timeframe,” Mayor Mark Kaczynski told the Council at its meeting Tuesday night.
The newly-established sub-committee will serve as liaison between the town, architect and elected officials.
Among its other responsibilities will be to examine similar projects recently completed in surrounding towns, explore funding sources for construction and look at the pros and cons of outsourcing operational costs for the new facility versus using town resources and staff.
Appointed were Town Councilors Brenden Luddy and Mike Urrunaga, Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Donna Bovee, Barbara Gombatz, from the Commission for the Aging and Dave Cyr with the town’s Economic Development Commission. Community, Recreation & Park Services Director Jennifer Ochoa will serve as a liaison to town staff and other boards and commissions as needed.
Bovee asked town officials to also consider appointing a citizen to the committee; specifically, Tim Thurston.
“I strongly believe that Tim will offer a different perspective than those who sit on our boards and commissions,” she said.
Thurston told councilors he and his family have been an integral part of Berlin swimming for many years and he understands the community’s needs well.
“I’ve been around swimming and community centers all my life; if there is an opening on this committee for an ordinary citizen I would like to be involved because I think I have the expertise,” he said.
Kaczynski agreed there might be use for Thurston and possibly several other citizens on the committee before its first meeting in September.
“Let’s see if we can get a few townspeople involved,” he said. “I don’t think it would be an issue to add some members-at-large from the community.”
Quisenberry-Arcari & Malik (QA&M Architecture) came up with preliminary designs and building concepts using a Statement of Need. The team recently collected feedback from Berlin residents at several public information meetings and will be revising its plans before returning with a more detailed project scope and cost estimate.
“I think there is a lot of homework to be done on this conceptual plan,” the mayor said. “We want to do this step-by-step and continue it to the end.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.