|By Katelyn Gendron|
CHICOPEE – Construction for the new Chicopee Senior Center may have received a recent infusion of funds from MassWorks but there’s still plenty of money to be raised, according to Sandra Lapollo, Council on Aging executive director.
MassWorks awarded the project with a $1.7 million grant for infrastructure improvements surrounding the new facility, which is slated to open next spring. Approximately $900,000 of the $2 million pledged by the Friends of the Senior Center has yet to be raised, however.
“The Friends are committed to raising $2 million as part of the building cost,” Lapollo said.
“The current center is too small to handle the demand for our services [and] programs. Also, parking is a very serious issue. While this building has served us well, we know more about architecture for older adults now. For instance, they need 20 times as much light as a younger person. We need more bathrooms and handicapped parking. Our new building has been designed specifically for their needs,” she added.
When asked how the new Senior Center will better support the COA’s mission, Lapollo replied, “We will be building on our current programming. Now some programs are not offered or not offered as often because of space issues. We think there will be more opportunities for health and life long learning programs and more types of exercise classes.”
State Rep. Joseph Wagner, House chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, said of the MassWorks grant, “Because this investment will facilitate construction of the senior center and deliver critical infrastructure to the adjacent sites, my colleagues and I have diligently advocated for its release. The state has invested substantially in Chicopee in recent years, and our continued partnership is essential to promoting growth and creating jobs in Chicopee.”
The grant will fund roadway and utility construction and a new pumping station, he noted.
Those wishing to donate to the Senior Center Building Fund may do so through the city’s website, www.chicopeema.gov, or by mailing a check payable to “City of Chicopee COA Building Fund” to The Friends of the Senior Center, c/o Chicopee Senior Center, 7 Valley View Court, Chicopee, MA 01020.
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