Metro, Politics, Newton

Finance Committee Allocates $19.5 Million Budget to NewCAL Project

The Newton City Council Finance Committee voted to allocate $19.5 million to the Newton Center for Active Living (NewCAL) on August 1, pushing forward the project to a vote before the entire council Monday.

The proposed new senior center’s $19.5 million price tag reflects an increase from a previous estimate of $16.65 million. Rising costs for goods and services used in the project caused the increase, according to Josh Morse, the city’s commissioner of public buildings. 

That price includes $15 million in construction costs, $1.78 million in architectural services, and $1.09 million for a project manager, according to a document released alongside the meeting’s agenda.

Morse said he is trying to secure funds as early as possible for the project given volatile material pricing.

“Because [the market is] volatile, we need to put ourselves in a position where we are as financially nimble as possible so we can take advantage of the ebb and flow of different labor and material markets out there,” Morse said.

The NewCAL project commenced four and a half years ago. 

The Newton Historical Commission (NHC) voted in March to not nominate the existing Newton Senior Center building as a landmark, allowing for its demolition and removing an obstacle for NewCAL’s construction.

“We are well over 300 meetings deep on this project, hard to believe, but it’s been a labor of love,” Morse said. 

In a 6-0-1 vote, Leonard Gentile, Ward 4 councilor–at-large; David Kalis, Ward 8 councilor-at-large; Emily Norton, Ward 2 councilor; Brenda Noel, Ward 6 councilor; John Oliver, Ward 1 councilor-at-large; and Rebecca Walker Grossman, Ward 7 councilor-at-large; all voted to appropriate the funds. Julia Malakie, Ward 3 councilor, abstained from voting. 

The Newton City Council will take final votes on Monday to move the NewCAL project forward. Construction of the new facility would take place between next summer and the summer of 2025.

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller expressed gratitude for Morse, Senior Services Director Jayne Colino, and city councilors for their work in pushing NewCAL forward.

“Most importantly, Newtonians rallied together to create something special,” Fuller wrote in an email Tuesday. “Your collective advocacy at every step in the process made this all possible.  Each and every one of you played an important role in getting us to this point, and you are justifiably very proud.”

August 7, 2022