‘It’s Our Turn’ for a Senior Center Expansion, says Lyme-Old Lyme Chair

OLD LYME — Point One Architects presented two conceptual design options for enlarging the Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee on Wednesday that ranged in cost from $3.4 to $3.8 million.

Architects Rick Staub and Greg Nucci, who are partners at Point One, said both design options include four key spaces: a large multipurpose room, which the building already has, a medium-sized multipurpose room, a small multipurpose room and an enclosed sunroom. Many of the rooms would be equipped with accordion doors for flexibility in the use of the spaces.

“So you basically have four large rooms that can work in multi-purpose ways,” said Staub. 

Both designs would add an ell-shaped internal hallway that Staub said would provide better circulation of foot traffic as well as direct access to nearly every space in the building.

“The two directions [of traffic] help us out as we get to the different spaces without interrupting and going through other spaces. One of your biggest challenges right now is you have to walk through this room to get to that room, and that disrupts everybody,” said Staub.

Both options would relocate the front door slightly to the north and would rebuild the existing porte-cochère. Both include a “greeter cafe” area of tables and chairs inside the entrance. Both include a cozy library with a fireplace. 

Both options would keep the kitchen and bathrooms in the same locations, but would include enlarging the bathrooms, and, in one option, the kitchen. 

“It’s an economical savings to keep those things where they are instead of relocating them somewhere else. And so you’re going to see them in the same general location, reutilizing plumbing lines and things like that,” he said.

Option one, costing $3.4 million, would add an enclosed sun porch on the south side of the existing building and a medium multi-purpose room on the west side. Option one includes a kitchen expansion that Staub said could be used for the center’s lunch program. The estimate includes about $100,000 for new furniture for the center. 

Option two, costing $3.8 million, would add medium and the small multipurpose rooms would be added to the south side of the building and the sunroom would be constructed on the west side. The design includes a wrap-around porch on the south side and part of the west side of the building. 

Both options include the addition of a cupola skylight designed to bring more light to the large multi-purpose room, which would otherwise be darker because of the additional rooms added to its sides. 

Staub said the plans were conceptual and reflected feedback from the committee during workshops in the summer, but the final product could look different depending on costs and program needs.

“Everything here is dreams and we love to live in the dream world. But at some point, that dream world comes back to us and we’re going to have to respond to reality at some point — we understand that as part of our role as architects… but right now we’re dreaming still,” he said.

Jeri Baker, chair of the building committee, said she had been strategizing about the fundraising process for the project. She said she had talked with state officials and reached out to Sen. Joe Courtney about the possibility of securing state grants 

“I’m going to tap every conceivable source that we can, or any conceivable person that might be able to help us with fundraising, so that we can commit to the towns that this building committee is serious enough about this project that we want to raise money to offset the costs,” said Baker. 

“When you have over 50 percent of the people who live in Lyme and Old Lyme who are 50 and older, we have a captured constituency that needs the services that we can give,” Baker said.  “And it’s time for us. It’s our turn — and I’d like that to be our message to every organization and every board that we have to speak to.” 

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