City officials working on a proposal to use part of Albemarle Field in Newtonville as the potential future home for a new senior center will revisit other options for a site, including in Newton Centre, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in a statement Thursday.
Newton is searching for a location to build a new modern facility to serve seniors. Dubbed NewCAL — the Newton Center for Active Living — the center would also provide services to other city residents.
Officials began working a year ago to find a replacement for the current center, a converted library branch built in the 1930s. Last month, Fuller said Albemarle Field in Newtonville had been recommended following a review of nearly 150 public and privately owned properties in the city.
The proposed NewCAL facility would have been a two- or three-story building on the field, possibly on the site of the present Gath Pool. A new facility would have included a replacement pool.
But the selection proved controversial: Neighborhood groups organized in opposition out of concern that NewCAL at Albemarle would cut down on available open space and lead to issues like increase traffic in the area.
“We knew finding the right location for NewCAL was going to be hard,” Fuller said in Thursday’s statement. “I have been listening carefully. I’ve heard the many voices, opinions, criticisms and suggestions on the NewCAL project process and the potential sites over the past several months as we held a number of public meetings. I heard the deep concern about the potential impact on park land.”
She said she has asked a working group that reviewed potential NewCAL sites to look at some of the options that are not parks, “paying particular attention” to the parking triangle in Newton Centre. Fuller said that particular location had been set aside previously because it was considered too small.
The ideas resulting from another look at the Newton Centre parking triangle will be shared in the coming weeks, she said in the statement.
“We look forward to inviting comments, questions and concerns from City Councilors, the Council on Aging, residents, businesses and more. We will compare the advantages and disadvantages of this site and Albemarle even as we continue to explore City owned sites and private properties across Newton,” Fuller said.
Cedar Pruitt, a founder of Preserve Newton Parks, called Fuller’s decision a step in the right direction.
“We’re all really glad that she is considering sites that are not parks for the senior center,” Pruitt said. “This is something a lot of people care about — they want to keep their parks,” she said.