Newton’s Department of Senior Services will host events and programming at temporary facilities starting in November as the city prepares to build a new senior center, according to Jayne Colino, the department’s director.
“For the most part, the majority of the programs that we offer now will [still] be offered,” Colino told The Heights. “We’re going to dial it down a little bit until we feel like we can dial it back up in a quality way.”
The current senior center building, which dates back to 1938, is set for demolition to make way for the Newton Center for Active Living (NewCAL). The new facility—which the City Council approved $19.5 million in funding for in August—will be completed in summer 2025, according to the city’s website.
Colino said programs will begin moving to interim sites during the first week of November. After the move, crews will begin to demolish the current site, Colino said. They will preserve elements of the original building, such as stained glass windows, for use in NewCAL.
Colino said the plan for temporary sites is a decentralized model.
“You might have had a central building and then a bunch of things going on around the city,” she said. “That’s kind of what we’re going to need to do for the next couple of years that we’re here.”
During this interim period, a majority of the programs will take place in a temporary Newton Highlands Campus, which includes two spaces: the Brigham House and the Hyde Community Center Gymnasium,
The former is owned by the city, and the latter was donated for use by a non-profit organization, according to Colino. The gymnasium can host two events at the same time, she said.
While the senior center’s location may be different, the department will host many of the same programs in the temporary campus as it would have held in the senior center building, Colino said.
“We’re looking at kind of mid-to-small-size programs, like discussion groups and art classes at the Brigham House,” she said. “Our social services will continue to be provided at the Brigham House through our Social Service Team”
The department will hold other programs—including a chamber ensemble group and swing dance class—at Newton City Hall, and it is working out details to continue to host art classes and other events, Colino said.
With the temporary move, the department has had to temporarily pause the Durable Medical Equipment Program—a loan program for equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs at the senior center—while it determines how it can fit into the new locations, Colino said.
Each temporary space will be ADA compliant and provide ample parking for visitors, Colino said.
Residents young and old have been vocal in the NewCAL project and the temporary accommodations, Colino said.
“And that’s the way it should be,” says Colino. “We should be able to be responsive to the changing needs of this huge population.”
For more further information about changes coming to the department’s programs, residents can sign up for the electronic weekly newsletter available on the city’s website.