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Darien's New Community Center Eyes July Opening

Darien officials say the new Mather Community Center will be ready for a soft opening in July.
Darien officials say the new Mather Community Center will be ready for a soft opening in July. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DARIEN, Conn. – After many years of debate, planning and work, the Mather Community Center at Darien Town Hall is expected to open in July.

The new community/senior center is a major component of the project commonly referred to as the “Shuffle.” The project involved moving Board of Education operations, which were formerly housed in the offices adjacent to Town Hall, to the site of the old library on Leroy Avenue, and then moving the Senior Center from its current location on Edgerton Street to a new facility in the old Board of Education space.

Debate over the project went on in town government for many years before the project was finally approved in late 2011 .

The $7 million project has suffered some delays. Last year, the contractors hired for the project went bankrupt, forcing the town to re-bid the construction of the new community center. This forced the scheduled opening back from October to early 2014.

But the opening was further delayed due to electrical, plumbing and heating issues, as well as the harsh winter weather. At a recent meeting of the Board of Selectmen, former First Selectman and current chair of the project’s building committee Dave Campbell said the project could come in up to $500,000 over its original budget.

The Board of Education moved its offices to the Leroy Avenue site in April. The senior center will be looking to move from the Edgerton Street property to its new home on July 7, according to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.

New furniture was delivered to the Mather Center last week, and final touches on painting and flooring are being completed. The center does not yet have a certificate of occupancy, due to a couple factors such as gas regulator and a roof drain on the front door canopy, Stevenson said.

The Senior Center will be closed the week of July 7 to prepare for the move, with a tentative reopening date of July 14. The Senior Center will have a soft opening this summer, with a grand opening celebration to be held in the fall, Stevenson said.

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