Report recommends replacing Newton’s senior center with new building – The Boston Globe

Newton needs a new and larger senior center to meet the changing needs of its growing population of residents over age 60, according to a city working group, which recommended replacing the existing building on Walnut Street in Newtonville.

The city should build a new center at the site of the former branch library that can help expand its programming and services for older residents, according to the feasibility report released last month.

“Newton would like to be known as a City that promotes an age-friendly community for residents to desire to ‘Age in Place,’” the report said. “Construction of a new senior center is an essential step in supporting the residents.”

The recommendation from the city’s Newton Center for Active Living (NewCAL) Working Group comes nearly a year after Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced that the Senior Center will remain in its current Newtonville location.

The city’s Department of Senior Services, with the support of the Council on Aging, serves about 5,000 people each year through the Senior Center, according to the feasibility report. Those services include social, cultural and recreational programs, support groups, health education, elder law assistance, and physical activities.

The existing Senior Center at 345 Walnut St. was originally the Newtonville branch of the city’s public library, and opened in 1938. The building reopened as the Newton Senior Center following a 1993 renovation.

The roughly 11,300-square-foot, two-and-a-half story Classical Revival building was originally designed by the Boston architecture firm of Robb & Little, according to the report.

Based on the city’s research, to address the growing and changing needs of its senior community the Senior Center requires between 30,000 and 35,000 square feet of space, the report said.

Even with a new building, the working group said preservation should be part of the project. The existing building “has architectural character that is important and is also a part of the fabric of Newtonville,” the memo said.

John Hilliard can be reached at