By MICHELLE FIRESTONE
Chronicle Staff Writer
WILLIMANTIC â€” Plans are moving along for a new senior/community center for the town, with an architectural firm hired recently to design the building.
â€śWe interviewed four very reputable firms,â€ť Windham Town Council President Thomas DeVivo, also co-chairman of the ad hoc senior/community center building committee, said during the town council meeting last week.
Of 17 firms who submitted a request for proposals/qualifications, he said Quisenberry Arcari Architects of Farmington was chosen as the architectural firm for the project during the committeeâ€™s meeting last month.
The town purchased the 17,232-square-foot building at 1 Jillson Square in April.
The current senior center, which is at 47 Crescent St., is almost 5,000 square feet.
DeVivo said a price needs to be negotiated with Quisenberry Arcari, who will design the new senior center building. The price tag is included in already-budgeted figures.
DeVivo said Monday the project is moving along.
â€śRight now, weâ€™re working as quickly as we can,â€ť he said, speaking about the committeeâ€™s work. â€śWe want to get it done.â€ť
DeVivo noted all good things â€śtake timeâ€ť and if the work is rushed, there may be mistakes.
Friar Associates, an architectural, engineering and interior design firm based in Farmington, has already determined the building is structurally sound.
The senior center building committee, however, acknowledged several problems with the building and decided to seek cost figures for demolition.
Problems with the building include no windows, roof leaks and inadequate technology.
Rather than renovate the existing space, committee members have decided to seek bids to demolish the former movie theater building, as well as do asbestos abatement on the building.
Mystic Air Quality Consultants did an asbestos test on the building.
That company has experience in town, having done work at the Willimantic Public Library and the Willimantic Police Department.
The committee has not chosen a company for demolition or asbestos abatement yet.
They are also seeking a construction management/project management firm, which has not been selected.
The town has approximately $4.6 million budgeted for a senior center/community center project, including $3.25 million approved by residents during a town meeting in February and $1.34 million in state bond funds.
The state bond funding was initially approved by the state Bond Commission in December 2013.
At the time, the funds were tied to a senior/community center at 1315 Main St., where Access Community Action Agencyâ€™s offices are.
The deal for that site, which involved moving the senior center to a portion of the Access building, fell through late last year.
However, the town got permission to use the state bond funds for the Jillson Square site in May.
The state has notified the town it will not pay for demolition expenses.
The cost for demolition is not known as a company has not yet been chosen to do the work.
That work will be paid for using town funds set aside for the project.