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The New Senior Center Will Be Nothing Like the Old

Thu, 12/16/2021 - 11:39

Three months after voting to acquire seven acres off Abraham’s Path in Amagansett on which to site a new senior citizens center, the East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday heard its selection committee recommend that R2 Architecture, a joint venture between Ross Barney Architects of Chicago and Ronette Riley Architect of New York City and Bridgehampton, be selected to provide architecture and engineering services.

The board voted in September to acquire the land for $1.63 million. The property is part of a 14.3-acre, residentially zoned parcel adjacent to an undeveloped portion of the town-owned Terry King ball field complex. That move followed an initial plan to construct a new center on the site of the existing one, on Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton, which is in a building that is more than 100 years old. That plan was ultimately abandoned.

The board is to appoint R2 Architecture at its meeting today. The town attorney’s office will draft a contract with the firm, and town staff will meet next month with R2 officials to develop a “community engagement” plan.

Diane Patrizio, director of the town’s Human Services Department, told the board that 15 proposals had been received altogether. Contemporary senior citizens centers, she said, “exemplify the need for additional, more comprehensive, community-based services that meet the varying needs and consumer demands of the aging population.” The new center must “meet the needs of older participants and their families while also providing new, innovative programs that support the physical, mental, and social well-being of the town’s seniors.”

The new facility, Ms. Patrizio said, must accommodate current and future needs of the town’s senior citizens nutrition program; the adult day care program; offices, conference rooms, and a lunch room; wellness programs such as yoga, dance, tai chi, meditation, and health screenings; enrichment programs such as healthy living lectures, clubs, classes, and movie screenings. It should include a lobby area and parking for seniors, staff, and the town’s transportation buses and vans, and be able to accommodate multiple activities simultaneously.

The new center must also provide a permanent home for the East Hampton Food Pantry, which now occupies a temporary space behind Town Hall. To that end, the board decided in 2017 that the new center would include an office, walk-in refrigerator and freezer, dry storage, and a conveyor belt

Another mandate: The new building is to be designed to ensure that it is highly energy efficient, ideally generating as much energy, from renewable sources, as it consumes. The town board declared a climate emergency earlier this year, committing to make climate mitigation and elimination of greenhouse gases a guiding principle and objective of all aspects of town business. 

R2 Architecture has experience designing a commercial net-zero energy building, having included onsite renewable energy and electric heat pump heating systems in its other facilities, Ms. Patrizio said. The selection committee “is confident that the new senior center will raise the bar for town projects moving forward and support the town’s renewable energy goals and climate emergency declaration,” she concluded.

Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said he was excited that the new facility “is probably the first major project the town will undertake with a net-zero baseline in response to our emergency declaration.”

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