The Connolly Center is certainly showing its age these days, and the old Armory is in line this summer and fall to get a complete upgrade and expansion to include the addition of a movie theatre and a two-lane bowling alley.
Steve Supino, director of health and human services for the City, announced the project this week as bids were to be opened for construction on Wednesday, March 21. He said the Connolly Center does well in serving the elderly population, but as they modernize the building, they hope to also add new services to engage the older adults later into the day.
“We’re going soup to nuts on this,” said Supino. “We’re going to really, really make the building aesthetically pleasing and make it functional and fun too…The goal is to make it as functional as we can. We do a great job with activities and lunch, but the older folks tend to leave right after that. Not all of them, but some of them go home to an empty house. By adding bowling and movies and art, they can stay on until 4 p.m. and interact more with friends instead. That’s our main goal here.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said keeping senior citizens happy and healthy is an important part of City government.
“It is so important to provide social and physical activities to keep our seniors happy, healthy and strong,” said the mayor. “Here in Everett we take care of our own and are so fortunate to have a senior community that is both upbeat and active. We need to continue to make available to them all the best resources possible.”
The plans include replacing the roof of the building, opening up the front foyer so there are no offices and walls when one walks in, and replacing/refurbishing the wooden floor. Internally, they will also expand the kitchen while the larger project is ongoing.
However, while that is exciting, the real fun will be in the basement.
The Connolly has a huge basement, and with the help of First Lady Stacy DeMaria, Supino and his crew were able to come up with the idea of including a two-lane bowling alley, a 40-seat movie theatre, an art room and a computer room in the basement space.
That expansion will also include an elevator that will go from the basement to the ground floor to the second floor.
“We know what we want to do and we know we can do it,” he said. “What we want to do is put in a 40-seat theatre down there for the elderly to be able to watch movies. We also want to include a two-lane bowling alley, an art room and a computer room with internet access.”
Supino said they arrived at those new amenities by asking the older adults who attend the Connolly what they would like. The answer was movies and bowling and expanded time in the afternoons.
“We didn’t just go in and put in thing we like,” he said. “We asked them what they thought would be helpful. They’re the people who will be using it so you want to spark their interests.”
In addition, the bathrooms will be renovated to be fully ADA compliant, and the stage will also be enlarged – not to mention some major aesthetic changes to the main room, which is showing its age.
Supino said they hope to have bids opened and a bidder chosen soon, and then construction will begin. The goal is to have everything finished by late fall.