By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Thursday afternoon, Community Center Building Committee Chair Ford Spalding and Selectman Bob Springett hosted and informal chat on Zoom about the Community Center project, with a focus on the Council on Aging.
Dubbed a “Tea and Chat,” the 2 p.m. discussion started with Spalding explaining he’d opted for Earl Grey, while Ruth Townsend explained she was sticking with water, and Bob Springett joked that he’d chosen gin. That lighthearted feeling continued when Spalding asked for a digital “thumbs up” from the crowd in appreciation of Janet Claypoole’s work in getting the town’s seniors vaccinated, with Spalding noting that Dover’s "starting to look good,” as so many seniors have received at least one of their vaccination shots.
It was clear from the onset that the main issue with whether to renovate the 1910 building or to build a completely new one, from a senior's perspective, would revolve around on which floor the COA offices would be located. To that end, Spalding explained the advantages and disadvantages of both options.
If the town opts for the 1910 renovation, the COA offices will be on the first floor. The offices will have three desks, as well as some space to fill out forms. There will be a kitchen and a self serve café on the first floor as well, while the fitness center with a sprung floor for activities like aerobics and yoga will be on the top floor.
The main difference from a COA perspective about the new building option is that the COA will not be on the first floor. However, because it will be away from the building's entrance and recreational court, moving to the second floor will provide the quiet some seniors are looking for.
Ruth Townsend presented a “day in the life” slideshow using photographs form other senior centers. The slideshow emphasized how much this will be a community space, where people will be able to look and see who is doing what around the building, if they’d like to connect with a friend.
But as exciting as the day in the life made the building seem, the overarching, consistent issue was the seniors' dislike of the idea of having the COA on the second floor. While Townsend explained having all the COA rooms on the second floor would make it “like it’s your very own senior center up there,” she also explained that moving the offices of the people who are supposed to be in charge of the building - as well as departments like Parks and Recreation - upstairs would not be a good thing.
Those who back renovating the 1910 building asked Spalding why some people seemed dead set on building a new building, when the 1910 renovation represents more square feet, allows more flexibility, and maintains the appearance of Caryl Center. Spalding noted that “some people just like new,” while Joan King said many people had told her “no matter what you do to the old Caryl School building, it will still look like an old school.” To that end, Linda Pettit noted people don’t seem to be understanding how much of a renovation the 1910 renovation would entail, and that those in favor of that option should do a better job emphasizing just how different the building would be than its current form.
As for costs, Spalding noted how, while he is very opening to pursuing them, you can’t really secure alternative funding until there’s a building. He explained that initiatives like naming the buildings after someone, or selling engraved bricks on the patio, are far less effective when they take place before there's an actual building, emphasizing the point by explaining this was essentially what had happened with the rail trail.
If you’re from Sherborn and all this talk of Dover’s Community Center doesn’t interest you, don’t worry - these discussions will be coming to your town soon enough. One of those to drop in on the Zoom and ask about the project was the Sherborn COA's Christine Winterfeldt, who noted Sherborn was going to start a similar project and asked Spalding about using a feasibility engineer.