Work on Monterey Community Center almost completed


MONTEREY — The town of Monterey can look forward to a fully functioning community center shortly as work wraps up on the long-awaited redevelopment project.

"It's been a lot of work," said Mike Banner, one of the project's participants, on Friday.

The community center sits just east of the village center on the corner of New Marlborough Road and Route 23. It's the former home of Edith Wilson and Marjorie McLaughlin. Wilson willed the home and property to the town after her death in 1995; McLaughlin died in 1991.

The decision to convert the property into a community center was made in 2004. Longtime Monterey resident Joe Baker formed the Friends of Wilson McLaughlin House nonprofit to convert the old home into a municipal building.

Work began in earnest in 2013.

"We got the lead out, the asbestos out," Banner said. "The building was stripped down to a bare frame."

From there, the house was redone completely. A center staircase was moved to the back of the building to open up the main floor. The bathroom was remodeled to allow for handicap access — even the floor tiles are designed for disabled use.

The town has stepped up for contributions of $10,000, $45,000 and $40,000 in 2012, 2013, and 2016 respectively. The Massachusetts Cultural Council contributed $40,000 and $25,000 in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Funding also was raised through a windows campaign — selling plaques on each of the center's 27 windows to contributors in town.

The building has been brought up to municipal code, adding disabled access building-wide and reinforcing the structure. On the second floor, heavy steel trusses hold the home's original beams in place. The basement was overhauled with a new concrete pour and new posts to hold up the floor, which can hold up to 100 pounds per square foot.

The building didn't have water on Friday, but that's the next step for the project. Banner said the septic is going in this week.

The grounds of the community center also are experiencing a redesign. The center has hosted a community garden since 2010, located in the front of the building to the Route 23 side. The center sits on just over 28 acres, but Banner said most of that land is wetland and not easily accessible.

The site does have a broad lawn that dives down from the house to thee tree line. There has been some town discussion of putting in a golf tee for practice swings and possibly using the slope as a natural amphitheater for movie nights and performances, Banner said.

But those decisions are for the future — right now the priority is getting the center up and running. Banner didn't have a clear timeline for completion, but he said the center should be open within the next few months after detail work has been completed, window trim and the like.

The center's website says the center will open in fall of 2016.


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