This letter to the editor was submitted to the Longmeadow Buzz blog by Marie Angelides, current member of the Longmeadow Select Board.
The Town of Longmeadow is holding a special town meeting on March 26th after a citizen filed a petition asking that the New Adult Center be built according to the preliminary plan presented at the Annual Town meeting in May 2018.
There have been some design changes due to the increase costs of materials and needed changes in the preliminary plans to accommodate the programs and services. This petition is asking that we pull back the bid and stop the project. The request is that we go back to the preliminary design. With the added design costs and the projected increases in the cost of building next construction season the town will need to go back to Town meeting for added funding of 1 to 1 ½ million dollars. Another June ballot vote may also be required.
I would like to clarify the status of the design and correct some misinformation that motivated this petition.
Longmeadow is planning on keeping the gift shop at the current location. The Maple Tree Gift Shop at Greenwood sells donated items and greeting cards. The Friends group (FOLOCA) for the Council on Aging runs the gift shop to support programming at the Senior Center. The preliminary design of the new Adult Center included 275 SF for a gift shop. This is inadequate space. The gift shop is now in a space of 990 SF and can expand at the current location. The petition would require the Gift Shop to move to a smaller space.
Another problem with going back to the original design of 275 SF for the shop at the new center surfaced in our December town audit report. The town auditors informed the Select Board that municipalities cannot use town resources to fundraise for private entities no matter what the cause. To comply with this ruling the town will have to charge rent for the gift shop. The cost of the lease would be higher at the new center and the small space would not allow for much profit for a swap shop. Also shop space at the new Adult Center would also be attractive to other entities during the bid process and Longmeadow could end up with a business at the new Adult Center not the Friends’ gift shop. I am committed to working with the town and the Friends group to find a workable solution at the current space.
Another issue is the Pickle Ball courts. The Pickle Ball courts are part of the bid that has gone out.
There is concern the gym is slightly smaller. The square footage of the gym is actually larger with the inclusion of the elevated track. The Elevated track is one of the most popular design features of the new center.
Moving from preliminary design to final design is a complicated and fluid process. The Building Committee has been meeting almost weekly to have the building bid ready this year. The meetings are posted and open to the public. Comments are invited at the beginning of the meeting.
With this information and the agreement to work together for a positive solution on the gift shop the petitioner has decided to not go forward. There still has to be a meeting on March 26th . The Town Moderator will advise Town Meeting on the best way to proceed on the article.
Longmeadow Select Board