Even after the Town Council voted to allow Town Manager Denise McNair to sign the purchase option for the old Knights of Columbus property on Percival Avenue, Chairman of the Berlin Housing Authority, Joe Bajorski, said senior housing on that property is at least two years away.
“The Town Council, with that move Tuesday night at the council meeting, authorizes for a purchase and sale agreement once we’ve established the funding,” Bajorski said. “I think the cost will be $1 plus whatever the cost of the demolition of the structure on the property.”
The Knights of Columbus building was evacuated last year after leaks in the roof made it unusable for any programs. Prior to that, the Berlin Youth Wrestling Minutemen program used the building. The Parks and Recreation Dept. also used the building to run dog-training classes. It is now vacant.
“In July of 2011, we filed a funding application to get funds to perform wetlands analysis, make design plans and a developmental study,” Bajorski said. “We heard from the state in October because they had a few questions on our application. We addressed those questions with the state and we should be getting an update this week or next week. We are hoping that it will be positive and we will have that money.”
The next move would be to solicit architects and contractors to see what kind of building will fit on the site. The Housing Authority would then go to the Planning and Zoning Commission for final approval. The last hurdle of funding would be a financing request to the DECD.
“We would like to build 100 units of senior housing because the need is there but we are not going to build a five story tower,” Bajorski said. “We may build something with two stories but we are very aware that the structure should fit into the neighborhood.
“We have to be realistic. Maybe we build two stories with 30 units on each floor for 60 units total. We would love to have more but it has to fit on the site and it has to fit into the neighborhood.”
The Housing Authority opened its applications for senior housing over the summer and a waiting list of 75 quickly mounted.
“Once we closed the application process, we had a lottery and the people were put on a waiting list in the order of the lottery,” Bajorski said. “We will fill vacancies in that order. If they choose not to take advantage of the opening at that time they will be passed over and put at the bottom of the list.”
The town has 70 units of senior housing right now, 40 at Marjorie Moore, behind the Town Hall, and 30 at Percival Heights.