OUTHINGTON — Planning trips for fellow seniors at café tables near a fireplace in the new Calendar House lobby, Janet Ferracci-Carter and Jean Grzesczyk had nothing but praise for the building that opened this week to replace the former senior center.
“We’re in awe of it,” Ferracci-Carter said.
Workers are still putting the finishing touches on the new Calendar House, which opened on Tuesday, two months ahead of schedule, according to building committee chairman Paul Champagne. The former senior center will be demolished in a few weeks, which will make room on the Pleasant Street site for more parking.
Champagne said the new building has rooms for more programs, state-of-the-art amenities, large event rooms and accommodations for staff.
He credits the building committee, which included local developers and builders, with speeding the project along. Champagne said he also expects it to come in under budget.
“The professionals on the building committee made this accelerate,” he said.
During a 2015 referendum, voters approved spending $9.4 million on a new, expanded senior center. Rather than renovating the existing building, a new senior center was built on the northwest portion of the Pleasant Street property. The old center remained open for all but a week during construction, Champagne said.
The state provided $5 million for the work.
Town officials said the old building was increasingly inadequate for the 5,000 Calendar House members and for the projected growth in the town’s senior population.
“The senior population to 2030 keeps growing in Southington,” Champagne said.
Ferracci-Carter and Grzesczyk praised the amenities and said it would likely draw younger seniors. Ferracci-Carter said her daughter, 24 years younger than herself, was a good example.
“She would never come into that building. She’ll come into this building,” she said.
Grzesczyk said the center was an important social hub for seniors. While she could exercise at her house, it’s more enjoyable to do so with others at the Calendar House.
“Who likes to exercise alone?” she said.