Lymes’ Senior Center Holds Design Workshop with Point One Architects

OLD LYME — Supplied with red stickers, blue stickers, and gold stars, many of the Lymes’ Senior Center Board of Directors and a number of selected community members marked their favorite and least favorite areas of the center on large site plans and floor plans Tuesday afternoon.

“[Put the] red stickers on the area that you like to see or like to visit — if you have more than one area you love, you can use two stickers… The blue represents the things you do not like about the site,” said Rick Staab, a partner at Point One Architects, which designed the exercise to gather information about the center for a renovation feasibility study.  

It was one of three “design needs analysis” exercises drafted by Point One Architects to draw out the feelings and ideas of the participants about the center, which was constructed in 1995. 

At a workshop with Point One on June 9, members of Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee described the building as “too small,” “cramped,” “no privacy,” “inefficient,” “sterile and “bland,” but also as a “great location” and “inviting.” At that workshop, participants said they would like the center to feel welcoming, warm, inviting, friendly, accessible, safe, uncrowded and alive.   

At Tuesday’s session, Stephanie Gould, director of the center, said that the building should be welcoming and “feel like home.” 

Board member Donald Abraham said that creating flexible spaces was important for the center. 

One participant said that the constricted floor plan in the building prevented additional classes and programs from being scheduled. 

Gould also said that the center’s lack of accessibility was a problem for those with disabilities.

Staab said that accessibility would be an integral part of any renovations going forward. “It’s just a given that it needs to happen. We understand that accessibility is critical to what you do,” he said. 

A second exercise called “beauty contest” asked participants to rank pictures depicting styles of exteriors and interiors in order of preference. 

The third exercise, “spending spree,” gave each participant $30 in fake coins to “spend” on eight categories. Participants spent the most coins on the category of “adding more space with an addition.” Other categories included curb appeal, energy efficiency, upgrade interior finishes, separate/flexible open space, quiet rooms/space, technology upgrades and outdoor improvements.  

Participants allowed to “vote” in the exercises included members of the board, as well as former board member Gary Weed, Gould, and Paula Emery, the recording secretary. Selectman Mary Jo Nosal, Jude Read (Old Lyme Board of Finance), Cheryl Parsons (assistant to Gould), Denise Piersa (town nurse) and Lynn McCarthy (center yoga instructor) were also invited to take part.

Audience members not participating included Dan Hagan (Lyme Board of Finance), Edie Twining (Halls Road Improvements Committee), Arthur “Skip” Beebe, and Russell Learned of Centerbook Architects.

After the meeting, Board Chair Jeri Baker said that the building had never received a new roof and that repairs had been made “when we needed them.”

“There are regular inspections because it’s the municipal agency that goes through all the state and local inspections that need to happen for water and fire safety — all the regular things as far as the improvements or repairs that are made. But the idea is both towns are looking to see what can be offset until we actually move to the next phase of the design,” she said. 

The next workshop is scheduled for August 4 at 1 p.m. at the center. 

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