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Selectmen Support Combined Library, COA at Town Center, But Foresee Hurdles

There are plans for a municipal building at Wayland Town Center, and discussions are underway to put a combined Wayland Public Library and Council on Aging there.

Wayland's selectmen Monday night said they fully support a Wayland Town Center building that houses both the Wayland Public Library and the Council on Aging, but they have some concerns about possible hurdles to bringing the project to fruition.

Representatives from Wayland's Library Trustees and the Council on Aging met with selectmen to discuss the results of a study into the feasibility of a shared facility to be constructed on the municipal pad set aside on the Wayland Town Center property.

The municipal space at Wayland Town Center is currently zoned for a 40,000 square foot municipal building of some kind. That zoning creates a possible first hurdle.

Aida Gennis explained that the recent feasibility study, conducted by Kang Associates, revealed that achieving the programming and space needs of both the COA and library would require a 43,300 square foot building, more than currently allowed by the zoning.

Gennis said that representatives had worked closely with Kang Associates to develop a plan that would fall within the square footage guideline, but could not shrink the space needs any further and "keep the integrity of our programs sound."

The current schematic plans call for the library and Council on Aging to share about 28 percent of the building, including some meeting facilities, technology infrastructure space, function space, a kitchen and cafe.

The library would move into slightly more than 19,000 square feet of dedicated space -- a significant increase over the 12,500 square feet in which the library currently operates at its 5 Concord Road location.

The Council on Aging would enjoy about 5,500 square feet of dedicated space as opposed to the 2,500 it currently has at the .

"We do feel that our programs are very complementary and they can blend very well in a space,” Gennis said. "We see this proposed collaboration as fitting the mission of Town Center. We see this as a community center."

Betsy Soule, chair of the Council on Aging, pointed out that the COA's current space doesn't feature any private areas where individuals and families can discuss medical care, legal issues or other private matters -- all topics frequently discussed at the COA.

In addition, COA programming is such that it often overflows the space allotted.

"The COA of today is not your mother’s or your grandmother’s senior center where you play bingo and have a meal," said Secord. "The multitude of programs that are offered is only right now constrained by our space constraints. The range of things is just so vast now in terms of educating and socializing both seniors and everyone that works with them."

She pointed out that 25 percent of Wayland's population is seniors and another 13 percent are "Boomers" who will soon join the ranks of seniors.

Creating a shared library and COA building would promote the intergenerational programming that both groups want to encourage.

While officials said they could see the benefits of the plan, the footprint of the building as well as obtaining the funding -- early estimates are in the $14 million range -- could prove problematic.

In addition, Town Administrator Fred Turkington pointed out that the Finance Committee wants to consider the option of renovating the current Wayland Town Building to house the library and COA and building the new Town Center location to house town offices.

At this point, Turkington said, the earliest groundbreaking for the project would be spring 2014, as town meeting votes are necessary in addition to additional planning.

“My concern is fiscal," Selectman Joe Nolan said. "It’s the perfect fit for this thing that we’ve worked eight years to put downtown. I’m a huge advocate of this use. You have my support, but I want the Finance Committee to explain to me exactly what it’s going to do to the taxes.”

The selectmen did not take a formal vote in relation to the project, but Board of Selectman Chair John Bladon explained that the project has the selectmen's support as representatives continue to work through issues and answer questions.

Next steps involve working with the Conservation Commission about possibly moving the footprint of the building even further from the river as well as talking with the Finance Committee about the capital budget process.

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