Planning for a future Reading Center for Active Living
Get involved in planning for Reading’s Center for Active Living (ReCal)! Join the conversation at the next public forum scheduled on June 1, 2022, 7:00 p.m. at the Reading Public Library. This is the third public forum, hosted by the Town of Reading together with the team from the UMass Gerontology Institute, to get feedback on how the Town should be planning for a potential new Senior/Community Center otherwise known as the Center for Active Living.
The existing Senior Center, the Pleasant Street Center (PSC), has served the community well but can’t meet the need of the town’s current senior population. A 2017 needs assessment conducted by the UMASS Gerontology Institute concluded that the PSC could not meet the needs of seniors due to limitations associated with the building. A key recommendation of the UMASS study was to explore the feasibility of significant expansion of space for the PSC and the Elder/Human Services division. The study noted that the senior population is growing, and many seniors are choosing to age in place, pointing to the need for a larger facility designed to meet the needs of a growing population of people age 60+.
Improvements made to the PSC since the 2017 needs assessment helped maximize use of the existing building. Elder and Human Services staff members have supplied a vital lifeline to seniors, especially over these past 24 months of the global pandemic, by supplying remote programming, drive-by events, a Chrome Book Loaner program, and, most importantly, thousands of phone calls to seniors when the PSC was shuttered for safety reasons.
Several months ago, Town Meeting funded the cost of a planning study to hire a consultant to help identify the pulse of the community about a new center (e.g., Seniors only or Intergenerational). Last autumn the Select Board created and appointed members of Reading’s Center for Active Living Committee (ReCalc) an ad-hoc committee that has been exploring the current and future needs of the community and developing recommendations for how the Town should plan for a new facility. ReCalc, together with the consultant hired from the UMass Gerontology Institute, initiated a robust community engagement effort as well as a benchmarking effort comparing Reading’s Senior Center to those in twenty-one area communities.
“ReCalc, Town staff, and our consultant from the UMass Gerontology Institute have made strides already in helping us plan for the future,” said Town Manager, Fidel Maltez. “In addition to the listening sessions, there will be focus groups and a community survey to make sure we give everyone a chance to be heard. The Select Board, Town Meeting, the Reading ARPA Advisory Committee, Council on Aging and others have and will continue to be an important part of this conversation.”
For more information, please visit the Town of Reading website readingma.gov/recalc