Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
State grant to dress up senior center

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
April 21, 2006

VERNON - A $30,000 state grant will clear the way for the town to restore the senior center to its original 19th-century appearance.

On Tuesday, the Town Council voted 11-0 to execute an agreement with the state Department of Social Services to use the grant for improvements to the building, which is next to Town Hall on Park Place.

Democratic Councilwoman Pauline A. Schaefer was absent from Tuesday's meeting.

Among the improvements is the replacement of doors leading to a spiral staircase and the installation of windows in another staircase, Town Administrator Laurence R. Shaffer said.

The window installation is expected to restore the building - constructed in the late 1800s - to its original appearance, which included a large window or door that allowed natural light to shine in the staircase in the building's west end.

But for reasons unknown - most likely energy conservation - that window was removed and replaced with a wall made of bricks that don't match the color of the building exterior, officials said.

The remainder of the money will be used to install historically accurate doors leading to a spiral staircase on the building's east side.

Although the staircase is rarely used, Shaffer said, the doors would enhance the historic appearance of the building's interior.

The grant, obtained several months ago with the aid of state Rep. Claire Janowski, D-Vernon, will clear the way for more construction and renovations of town-owned property on or along Park Place.

Work on the long-awaited renovation to Central Park is expected to commence after the July in the Sky Independence Day celebration, and long-planned renovations to the third floor of Town Hall also are expected to get under way soon with the help of $1.2 million in state bond money.

"We're very much interested in the exterior facades of all our historic buildings," Shaffer said. "It ties in very nicely with the work we hope to do on Town Hall."

Janowski said the improvements to the senior center are the latest in a series of projects aimed at improving the appearance of the downtown area.

"It's not often you get $30,000 to beautify the historic buildings," Janowski said. "I'm looking forward to seeing the plans once they have them."

©Journal Inquirer 2006