Schools Cut From Falmouth Senior Center Site List
By: CARRIE L. GENTILE, June 24, 2014
Following a recent meeting with school officials, the group scouting out new locations for a Falmouth senior center removed two Falmouth public schools from their list of possible sites.
“Schools officials are not amenable to parting with the schools,” said James A. Vieira, chairman of the senior center site feasibility group. “They are not at the point where they are discussing the ultimate disposition of the buildings,” he said Monday night, June 23, to members of the Falmouth Planning Board and Falmouth Board of Selectmen.
Originally, the group planned to recommend Teaticket Elementary School and Morse Pond School, along with six other sites, to the Falmouth Board of Selectmen for further study. But during Monday’s joint meeting, Mr. Vieira presented a trimmed down list of three options as a new gathering spot for seniors - Falmouth’s School Administration Building and site and two parcels on which to build a new facility, at Falmouth High School and land adjacent to the Falmouth Dog Park on Brick Kiln Road.
They also removed from consideration the 23-acre town-owned Augusta parcel on East Falmouth Highway after members of the town’s wastewater committee said they wanted to reserve the plot for its original intention, as a future wastewater treatment site. The Gus Canty Community Center was deemed unsuitable because of limited parking and expansion options and the Steamship Authority’s Gifford Street lot was axed as well when the group discovered the Steamship Authority wasn’t ready to part with the lot yet.
The group was charged with looking at town-owned vacant plots on which to build a new facility and municipal buildings that would be tailored to seniors to replace the current 1970s-built 4,000-square-foot center on Dillingham Avenue.
“The new center should be the focal point in the community for older adults,” Mr. Vieira said. On his wishlist for a “21st-century” center are lifelong learning classrooms, a café and kitchen to support wellness and social interaction, land for outdoor recreation, and small spaces for individual private consults with lawyers, doctors, et cetera. The group also looked at centrally located sites that could be served by public transportation.
“Falmouth High School is in the perfect location,” Mr. Vieira said. He is eyeing a northern plot on the property near the tennis courts. The prospect of creating intergenerational programs for the seniors and high school students was another selling point.
“Couldn’t we save money if instead of building a new structure we use a wing of the high school?,” asked Patricia Kerfoot, chairman of the Falmouth Planning Board.
Selectmen chairman Mary (Pat) Flynn said that redevelopment of an existing structure should be on the priority list.
Mr. Vieira said the consultant hired to further assess the three sites will look at the high school parcel as a whole and consider all options.
Although Mr. Vieira pointed to the age of the structure and amount of retrofitting needed, the group agreed that they liked the central location of the school administration building and its proximity to Teaticket Park. They decided to consider both refurbishing the existing 14,000 square-foot-building and building a new facility on the site. If considered further, he said input is needed from the Teaticket Village Association and there needs to be a discussion on abandoning the ball field there.
The parcel on Brick Kiln Road was selected because of its location and flat topography, but it was noted that there would be limited visibility from the road.
The Falmouth Board of Selectmen will vote on whether to approve the three sites and will move forward with a detailed feasibility study.