A plan for the replacement of the East Hampton Senior Center with an expanded facility that would be built on the current site is being considered by town board members.
“It’s probably the only senior center older than the seniors who use it,” Eric Schantz, the town’s senior planner said of the 100-year-old building. He presented the proposal during an April 19 board work session.
Programs and services offered at the facility, at 128 Springs Fireplace Rd. in a former bar, include lunch and nutrition, transportation, adult day care, limited daily exercise, health screening, mental health referrals and senior counseling.
Schantz said space at the center, situated on an approximately 2-acre property, is very tight and the number of seniors in town is expected to increase.
“It is estimated that the over-65 population in East Hampton will be double the size of the school-age population within 15 years,” Schantz told the board. “This population will need emergency medical facilities, assisted-living facilities, senior housing, and a wide range of social programs and services. Adequate space is needed.”
Board member Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the liaison to the town’s Senior Services Committee, said the space at the center is alarmingly inadequate.
“A family therapist who meets with the seniors meets with them in a broom closet,” Burke-Gonzalez said. “We definitely want a larger lunchroom. You can barely walk between the tables. The program has been running there for 31 years. We’ve outgrown the space, and it needs an overhaul.”
The plan calls for increasing the building’s current 6,100 square feet to 17,500 square feet and increasing the parking spaces to 120. A game room, wellness center and media room would be added and there would be an outdoor space with walking tracks, gardens and areas for dining and conversation as well as space for storage and offices.
Schantz said that constructing the two-story center with a basement on the existing site is recommended because it is town-owned property so the only capital investment needed would be in the construction.
If the project is approved by the board, Schantz said construction would be expected to begin in May of next year.
To pay for the new center, board member Peter Von Scoyoc said, “We’d bond it off.”
Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said of the center: “We’re not solving all of the problems with this” but he said the current building is in “deplorable condition. It’s not a building that you can go in and feel really proud of.
“Our seniors deserve better than what’s there now,” Cantwell said.