After more than a year of talks, Wellesley selectmen announced this week that plans for a "campus vision" for the Wellesley Council on Aging were being abandoned.
The proposal called for construction of a multi-use facility owned by the town on land that is currently occupied by the Wellesley Community Center and owned by Wellesley Friendly Aid. The Community Center is currently housing activities for the town's seniors.
Terri Tsagaris, a member of the Board of Selectmen, said that the problem was the amount of space available on the site.
"Throughout the process we asked various parties for their space needs, and it turned out some of the synergies we thought existed weren't there," Tsagaris said. "We all need too much space, and building this way would raise the cost to more than that of a standalone senior center."
Prior to developing the campus vision, the town was pursuing a standalone senior center up the street from the Community Center on the old American Legion site. Wellesley has already spent $600,000 on design fees for a standalone center, which was estimated to cost $5.8 million.
The Community Center released a statement after the Selectmen's decision.
"During this process our work with the Selectmen has resulted in improvements to the
Community Center’s operations and to our building," the statement read. "Working together has also resulted in improving our understanding of the priorities and capabilities of all of the organizations involved."
"We worked hard to make sure during the entire process we maintained our positive relationship with the Board of Selectmen," said David Walsh, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Wellesley Community Center.
Walsh said that the Community Center was planning to go forward with its previous renovation plans, and had already made some changes. Some of those changes occurred last year, after the discovery of mice in the center's kitchen led to improved maintenance practices.
"We now have a traffic light, and we've widened our driveway," Walsh said. "We've also renovated two rooms, and plan to do much more work. We held off on doing any major structural work while discussions with the selectmen were going on, but now that that's done we're reaffirming our belief in our renovation campaign."
Renovations to the community center are expected to cost between $500,000 and $1.75 million, depending on what the center decides to do.
Tsagaris said the Board of Selectmen and the Council on Aging would be meeting next week to discuss the next steps in returning to planning a standalone senior center.
Sarah Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.