Newton’s Former Senior Center to be Demolished Soon, Commissioner Says

Newton Public Buildings Commissioner Josh Morse said preparations are underway to demolish the building that was previously the Newton Senior Center, which is set to be replaced by the New Center for Active Living (NewCAL), at the project’s community meeting Tuesday.

“We’re making preparations to do the demolition of the building and that will be coming in the next couple of days, so we’re getting close,” Morse said.

The crew has already completed selective demolition on the existing building, removing certain features that date back to the building’s original construction in 1938, including stained glass windows, according to Morse.

“The team did a great job getting those [windows] out of there,” Morse said. “They’re currently in the restoration process, no issues whatsoever,”

According to Morse, the crew found a time capsule in a cornerstone of the building, which will be opened during the groundbreaking ceremony at the beginning of construction.

“It was transferred over to the Jackson Homestead historical folks,” Morse said. “They’re going to keep close watch on that until we open it as part of the groundbreaking ceremony.”

Morse said the capsule was buried in 1938, when the original senior center was constructed, and that it contains mostly paper and textile goods.

“I don’t know what condition and the materials will be in after the amount of time that has passed, but it will be exciting and fun nonetheless,” Morse said.

Contractors removed asbestos from the building, and Morse said the team took precautions to protect the air in the surrounding neighborhood from toxic chemicals.

“There is continuous air testing that’s done, so it’s done in a very safe way,” Morse said. “We use the same approach that we do for school projects, and everything went very, very smoothly. 

Morse predicted the construction will break ground in four to six weeks, at which point the city will announce the official name of the building.

“We’re going to be doing the groundbreaking and the time capsule opening all in one event and at that time, we’ll also be announcing the name of the facility, so that’ll be a big day,” Morse said.

Newton City Council voted unanimously in December to approve full funding for the senior center and reopen bidding on the project after several bidders pulled out and costs appeared higher than the city anticipated, Morse said.

“All but one of them pulled out last minute,” Morse said. “We had one single bidder bid on the project in the late summer-early fall, and that bid was significantly higher than what our estimates predicted.”

The decision to reopen bidding delayed the project, but Morse said it was worth it.

“We ended up saving, I think just north of $6 million by rebidding it, so the delay was certainly something that we didn’t want, but it certainly paid dividends in the end,” Morse said.

Community meetings on the project are scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month over the duration of construction.

“As you’re interested in hearing from us, we’ll continue to have these meetings,” Morse said.

February 8, 2024

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