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Two potential senior center sites eliminated

Posted by Katrina Ballard  August 5, 2010 02:55 PM

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The Senior Center Exploratory Committee dropped two locations from a list of seven sites being considered for the new Needham Senior Center at a meeting last night, said town officials.

The Wingate property on Highland avenue and the Stephen Palmer building on Pickering street will not be included in the committee’s site recommendation to the town, said Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick.

The meeting began with a public comment period during which some Stephen Palmer residents voiced concerns with locating the senior center there, said Fitzpatrick. There were about 15 citizens present, including Needham residents who do not live in the Stephen Palmer building, she said.

After hearing the comments, the committee made pro and con lists for each of the seven sites, which also include the Needham Heights MBTA lot off West street, the Emery Grover site on Highland avenue, Greene's Field on Pickering Street, Ridge Hill off Charles River street and Rosemary Hill off Rosemary street.

At the end of the meeting, the committee decided to eliminate Stephen Palmer because of the unknown cost of buying out the building's lease or taking it by eminent domain, said Fitzpatrick. Needham owns the land beneath the building, but the building is leased to a private company.

The committee also listed as a con for Stephen Palmer that the building’s tenants would be displaced, said Fitzpatrick. The town would be responsible for relocating them if it took the building.

The committee decided against recommending Wingate because the town would have to lease part of an existing building, and the town does not know when it would be able to purchase that property, said Fitzpatrick. Also, Wingate’s location is not ideal, she said.

The Senior Center Exploratory Committee will continue meeting once a week until the end of August, said Selectman Denise Garlick, the committee chair. When the committee decides which site they believe is the best location, they will make a recommendation to the town.

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