October 27, 2020
Pictured above, left to right: Matt Billings Project Manager, Martini Northern LLC, City Manager Karen Conard, Former Mayor Bob Lister, Mayor Rick Becksted, Former City Manager John Bohenko, Recreation Board Chair Carl Diemer, Former Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director David Moore
While the pandemic has limited the use of the new Portsmouth Senior Activity Center to physically-distnaced and remote classes and for use as a polling place, City official celebrated its completion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, October 23rd. City Manager Karen Conard, Mayor Rick Becksted, Recreation Board Chair Carl Diemer and Martini Northern LLC Project Manager Matthew Billings joined in the masked-and-distanced ceremony, along with members of the City Recreation Department.
In February 2019 the City of Portsmouth took ownership of the facility identified in 2012 as the Committee's first option to house a new senior center. On May 19, 2019, the City Council approved a $2.5 million bond and authorization to request from the Trustees of the Trust Fund an additional $1.525 million from the Daniel Street Trust for the reconstruction of the new facility. DPW put out a Construction Request for Proposals and identified an estimated 8-10 month timeline to complete construction after mobilization. Thirteen contractors toured the facility and six submitted final bids. As a result of that process, the contract was awarded in August to Martini Northern, the lowest bidder and within the City’s expectations on the budget.
Funding for this project comes from a combination of sources, including planning and design monies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and funds from the Daniel Street Trust.
Working together with the Community Development and Public Works Departments, the Senior Services Division of the Recreation Department has designed an adaptive reuse of the former Doble facility which expands the space available to the current Senior Center from 2,400 sq. ft. to 12,000 sq. ft.. The new Center has increased the number of activity/classrooms available for programs from 2 to 7, including a 3,500 sq. ft. Assembly Hall and incorporates some of the design features recommended by the National Council on Aging.
Although COVID-19 guidelines restrict the number of occupants in the spaces for now, the Senior Activity Center is already welcoming participants to smaller programs and will soon be Portsmouth’s premiere community resource for mature adults. The long-term vision is that the Senior Activity Center is a vibrant hub for people to gather and access programs that encourage wellness, lifelong learning, creativity, socialization, and recreation. That involvement of adults in the community and senior center will inspire a deeper understanding of the power of healthy aging to positively transform lives. The Senior Activity Center is and will continue to be accessible to all, support an age friendly community, foster the wellbeing of older adults, and enrich the aging experience.