WILLIAMSTOWN -- The local senior center is set to receive some improvements this summer, including the installation of an air conditioning system.
Brian O'Grady, executive director of the Williamstown Council on Aging, said Tuesday that renovations to the Harper Center are expected to begin soon and will provide a much-needed update to the approximately 30-year-old facility.
"For all intents and purposes, it's a major renovation even though the building will pretty much look the same when it's all over," he said.
Renovations to the building will include the removal of all but two sliding glass doors that lead out to the patio on either side of the main hall, he said. The doors will be replaced with half walls and windows, he said. There will also be the installation of a ductless air conditioning system and a new heating plant, and the electrical system will be upgraded, he said.
When the building was constructed, air conditioning wasn't included at the time, he said.
"When you get a hot day, you want to have a place where seniors can come to cool off," he said.
Town Manager Peter Fohlin said at the Selectmen's meeting Monday night that the renovations have been approved by the federal Housing and Urban Development agency and are being paid for by Williamstown Elderly Housing Corp.'s replacement and renovation funds.
The estimated cost of the project was unavailable as of press time Tuesday night.
The town leases the Harper Center from the Berkshire Housing Develop ment Corp. and Williamstown Elderly Housing Corp. for the council on aging. Efforts to reach a representative from the Berkshire Housing De velopment Corp. Tuesday afternoon were unsuccessful.
Fohlin said the renovations are the first major changes to the building since it opened in 1980.
"When completed, Williamstown seniors will have a summer cooling center available and a warmer place to go in the winter," he said.
O'Grady said the council on aging will keep as much programming going as it can during the renovations, but there may be some disruptions.
"Right now, my focus is to keep the exercise, Tai Chi and lunch programs intact. We're still working on logistics for the afternoon programs," he said.
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