Plans Coalesce for New Town Senior Center

After considering but rejecting the former Child Development Center of the Hamptons building on town-owned land in Wainscott as a site for a new senior citizens center, the East Hampton Town Board is poised to build a new center on Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton behind the existing building, which would be razed.

Six architectural firms have already responded to a request for proposals to design the new center, and three, which made it onto the board’s short list, have been interviewed, Jeanne Carrozza, the town’s purchasing agent, told the town board at a meeting on Tuesday. 

After examining each firm’s proposals and qualifications, a review committee recommended Savik & Murray, a Holbrook engineering firm, which has been involved in a number of town projects. 

Construction of a 17,500-square-foot building has been estimated to cost ­between $275 and $325 per square foot, or from $4.8 to $5.7 million. The engineering firm would receive $239,000 for architectural design, preparation of specifics for construction bids, and administration of the construction, which is expected to take about nine months. The firm also asked for $61,000 for incidentals. 

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the town board’s liaison to the Human Services Department, which runs senior citizens programs, said Tuesday that there would be challenges during construction, requiring  such accommodations as moving certain programs to other locations temporarily.

The town offers nutrition, adult day care, recreation, health, and other social programs at the senior center. The building, which once housed a bar called the Cottage Inn, is estimated to be a century old and is in poor repair. 

A senior services committee issued a report  in 2014 recommending a new building, and Ms. Burke-Gonzalez worked this year with town staff to analyze demographics and future needs. The committee drafted a plan last spring calling for a new building to be 50 percent larger in order to provide a larger kitchen and dining room and a number of activity rooms and also to better accommodate the handicapped. The group considered various sites but decided the current location, which is centrally located and within walking distance of affordable housing complexes for senior citizens, the best option.

However, when the C.D.C.H. charter school closed in June, town officials thought it wise to consider it for the new center. Among the factors disqualifying it for a senior center, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said this week, were its Wainscott location, requiring a longer drive for most of those who use the center, and, for those driving to it from east of Wainscott, a tricky left turn onto Montauk Highway in order to head home. That move becomes virtually impossible, and dangerous, in summer traffic, she said. 

The Springs-Fireplace Road property where the existing center sits comprises  several lots, which the town is likely to combine, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said. It is zoned for residential use, and would have to be rezoned. Plans for the new building, once developed, will be sent to the planning board for site-plan review.