Plans for Worthington’s 1st senior center get a $2M boost

Published: 1/10/2023 8:25:40 PM
Modified: 1/10/2023 8:24:43 PM

WORTHINGTON — Plans to construct the town’s first senior center are much closer to reality thanks to an influx of $2 million in federal money for the project.

The money, secured late last year by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, will help the town pay for more than half of the $3.4 million senior center project.

The center is planned for a site next to Town Hall on Huntington Road. The building would be around 4,500 square feet in size and include a café, a large dividable multipurpose room, several classrooms and offices, a kitchen and storage spaces.

Planning for a new senior center began in 2018 when town officials approached Hilltown Community Development Corp. for help, according to Hilltown CDC Executive Director Dave Christopolis. A Hilltown CDC survey, presented as a slideshow on the town’s website, shows that around 40% of the town’s population are senior citizens and that 80% of survey respondents were in favor of the center.

Christopolis said discussions were underway last month about where the money would come from to construct the project.

“I spoke to legislators, both state and federal, we went back and forth a lot,” he said. “Then on the day before Christmas, I got a call from Congressman Neal’s office.”

The $2 million earmark is a noncompetitive award, meaning that the Hilltown CDC does not need to submit a written proposal to be approved for the funds. However, they will have to go through an administrative process similar to writing a grant proposal. Christopolis estimated it would take about four to six months to receive all of the earmark.

Christopolis said he would look to the state to acquire the remaining $1.4 million, through the commonwealth’s Community One Stop for Growth grant, as well as a Community Development Block Grant funding.

“We’re not going to build anything this year, unless the town decides they can pay for it themselves,” he said. “In the meantime, I’ll keep working with the federal government to try to get the money allocated to us.”

Christopolis said will meet with the town’s Select Board on Jan. 31 to discuss the next steps in the process for the senior center. He also plans to speak with state representatives on getting state grants for the project.

The earmark is one of three benefiting entities in Hampshire County from the federal government’s recent $1.7 trillion omnibus bill, with Amherst’s Jones Library and Grow Food Northampton being the other two. It is the only one to be earmarked by Neal, the other two designated by Rep. Jim McGovern, whose congressional district expands into the county.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.


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