After four years and more than 300 community meetings, the Newton City Council approved full funding of the proposed Newton Center for Active Living (NewCAL).
The approved funding totals $19.5 million.
Construction is set to begin in early 2023, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller wrote in a newsletter update shortly after the council’s vote.
“[The council’s decision allows] us to move forward with speed and care to create an exceptional new facility with programs and services for our older residents and the community at large, starting in 2024 and for generations to come,” Fuller wrote.
Twenty councilors voted to approve the funding. Three were absent, and one councilor, Ward 3 Councilor Julia Malakie, voted against it.
Malakie and Ward 2 Councilor-at-Large Tarik Lucas co-nominated the existing building as a historical landmark in January. The Newton Historical Commission rejected the nomination in late March.
Josh Morse, Newton’s public buildings commissioner, outlined the project’s steps that will take place over the next few years—getting approval of the building design, demolition of the current building, hiring of building contractors, and construction—in a document presented to the City Council.
The document also listed certain conditions that come with the funding, including requiring the NewCAL team to keep the City Council updated on the project’s progress.
The project—temporarily referred to as NewCAL—is searching for more than funds now, though: It needs a new name, according to Fuller.
“NewCAL, as we have affectionately been calling this project, was never intended to be the new center’s ‘forever’ name,” she said in her mayor’s update. “Let’s continue to work together to find the right name for this important City facility in which so many people will learn, exercise, sing, eat, create, find services and build community.”
Fuller called for a new senior center in her 2018 inauguration speech, and she thanked those who have been involved with the project since then in her update.
“Working together, we made it happen,” she wrote. “The passion and care throughout this process is just another of the countless reasons that make me grateful to serve as Mayor of Newton.”