December 6 - 13, 2006
By ANDY HART, The Hartford News Staff Writer
A group of South Hartford residents reviewed plans for the new South End Wellness Center on Maple Ave. last Thursday and the most serious bone of contention was what the new facility will be named.
Originally, the facility was to be called the South End Senior Center. This was changed to the South End Senior Wellness Center, then the South End Wellness Center. Now it may be called The Wellness Center or The South Hartford Wellness Center.
Whatever the name, the most important news at the meeting was that the facility, which will be located in the old Hartford Christian School building at 830 Maple Avenue, is still on track for a grand opening in the summer of 2007, according to Ramon Rojano, City of Hartford Director of Human Services.
Rojano said the community input provided at Thursday’s meeting will allow the architects, Lifecare Design, Inc. of Ridgefield, to complete their final plan for the facility. The project will then go out to bid, hopefully next month, said Rojano. If all goes according to plan, a contractor will be chosen by end of February and construction will start soon afterwards. The construction phase should last only about four to five months, said Rojano, because the project involves few major structural changes to the existing building. He did caution that installing new plumbing could pose some difficulties as, unlike virtually all major structures in Hartford, the building at 830 Maple Avenue has no basement.
Initially, the Wellness Center will only occupy the first and third floors of 830 Maple. The front of the first floor will contain a police sub-station, a reception area and a gift shop to sell crafts that have been made at the Wellness Center. An arts and crafts room with a kiln to bake pottery will be located adjacent to the gift shop. Beyond the reception area will be a nurse’s station with an examination table for health screenings and emergencies and a small, two-chair, unisex barber shop.
In the center of the first floor will be a cafeteria with seating for 60 people. A lounge with computers and television sets will be next to the cafeteria.
At the rear of the first floor will be the facility’s kitchen, which will also be used for cooking classes as well as preparing meals for visitors, an activity room with a pool table and a small greenhouse. A small patio will be located on the south side of the building.
The third floor of the facility will be dominated by a large, open area which will be used as a 100-seat theater, banquet hall, classroom and as a setting for group exercise.
The third floor will also have a technology center with 16 computer stations, a resource center with periodicals, magazines and other materials and an exercise room.
When fully operational, the Wellness Center will have a staff of 10 workers and volunteers. They should have their hands full, because Rojano predicted that, “within a year, this center will have 1,000 members.”