By SHERIDAN CYR
Residents have been enjoying it for months, but now it’s official. Southington’s new state of the art senior center, the Calendar House, opened their doors with a celebratory ribbon cutting ceremony last week. Residents, building committee members, state representatives and council members enjoyed an open house at the new building.
“If there was ever a recipe for a building committee that not only gets the job done, but gets it done on time and within budget, this was it,” said building committee chair Paul Champagne. Back in November of 2015, a $9.4 million Calendar House referendum was approved by voters. The committee was formed in December, and the work began.
Construction started in March 2017, and the building was open and occupied in February 2018. The old Calendar House was raised and a parking lot was laid where it previously stood. The project was made possible with state aid in an effort led by former state representative Dave Zoni and Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, which secured a grant of $5 million.
“It’s been a long time coming, and we’re proud to be here in a brand new Calendar House,” said Town Council chair Chris Palmieri. “It’s remarkable the difference between the old and the new. Thank you, Paul, and the entire building committee for your magnificent vision, and I think our seniors will benefit.”
Councilor Mike Riccio, who was council chair when the referendum was passed, commended the building committee for their work and pointed out the benefit of having building tradesmen as members of a building committee.
“I want to thank members of the building committee personally,” he said. “I made one request to Paul, and that was to make this building fit and look like it belongs in a residential neighborhood. He said, ‘consider it done,’ and that’s exactly what they did.”
Calendar House executive director of almost 33 years, Rob Verderame, accepted a proclamation from the Connecticut General Assembly issued by Aresimowicz and Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
“We just love what we have now compared to the old building. It is 200 percent better,” Verderame said. “There’s more room, more parking, and will continue to improve even more with new programs being introduced.”
Verderame said that over 350 new members have signed up since March 1, bringing the total to more than 5,000 members.
“It’s going to continue to grow because of the demographics in this town. By 2025, we expect to be at 40 percent of the population over the age of 55,” said Verderame. “That’s why we built our new building this large.”
For information on membership and programs, visit calendarhouse.org or call (860) 621-3014.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.