"Senior Center Will Not be Built on Park Land: Mayor"
“We heard loud and clear that placing the building on park/recreation land made many people uncomfortable”, the mayor announced.
The Mayor’s decision came after 7,000 people signed a petition calling on the mayor to "immediately remove all public parks from consideration for the NewCAL site, and to reaffirm Newton's commitment to preserving its natural spaces."
Residents are now surprised to learn that the new proposed plans for the Senior Center include eradicating the small park in front of the current building.
RightSize Newton is calling upon the mayor to uphold her pledge and protect the Senior Center park.
In 2005, the land in front of the Senior Center became an official park when the city spent $271,000 of Community Preservation Act funds to restore the original path to the front entrance of the building, install tables, seating area and benches; relocate the existing chess table; and install landscaping, lighting, and irrigation.
The CPA application says “The primary goal of the Park at The Newton Senior Center project is to: provide a fully accessible, passive recreation park for people of all ages and abilities.”
In order to preserve this park -- the only public green open space in Newtonville Center -- and preserve the historic building built during the Great Depression, city councilors Tarik Lucas and Julia Malakie have nominated the building to be landmarked. Landmarking of this building would protect the exterior and the park around the building. It would not prevent any internal renovations and even external changes can be made with the permission of the Newton Historic Commission.
With landmarked status, NewCal’s “Add/Reno” plan that would renovate and enlarge the existing building is still possible. Neighbors for a Better Newtonville has advocated for this alternative and RightSize Newton supports these preservation efforts.
It is undeniable that the Senior Center as it currently stands is not meeting the needs of seniors. One resident recently proposed converting the Education Center, a dilapidated city-owned building large enough to accommodate more senior center facilities including a year-round swimming pool complex. RightSize Newton would support the city in exploring this option.
We understand that many seniors have expressed their concern about delaying the process. However, the battle to protect Albemarle park lasted years and the city has positioned itself for another similar battle over the Senior Center park.
It is very unfortunate that this has turned into a struggle between two worthy goals: Better services for seniors or preservation of a park and a historic building. This is a false choice.
We ALL deserve a better Senior Center AND the preservation of parks and historic buildings. These goals do not need to be in competition with one another. Let’s solve this problem with a little creativity and make Newton better for everyone.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
The petition organized by Neighbors for a Better Newtonville already has over 500 signatures. Sign your name today!