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CONCORD, CA-The Concord City Council this week unanimously approved a new $5.5-million senior center for their town that will be built on part of an existing community park, near an older, smaller facility. To be designed and built by South San Francisco firm Group 4 Architecture Research, the 15,000-sf building will include a 300-person dining hall, four multipurpose classrooms, two consultation areas, an exercise room, a lobby and lounge area and various office space and storage areas.

The building comes as a relief to seniors feeling cramped in an existing facility, but to nearby residents and other users of the community park, it comes as an affront to their green space. The rub is the center would result in the paving over of a large part of the existing park south of Parkside Circle, and a 132-space parking lot would replace the grassy areas and picnic tables that currently sit to the north of Bonifacio Street.

This, of course, would be in addition to 14 months of construction noise, and the subsequent parking lot flood lights they say will shine in their bedroom windows at night. Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, aware of the concerns, is promising to evaluate any issues before starting construction. In addition, an ad hoc committee will meet regularly to review the project in its progressive stages and decide on any necessary changes.

“These are all very valid concerns, and we will take them into consideration before any construction begins,” says Hoffmeister. “Right now, we are at a conceptual stage, and I feel that we will be able to work out compromises on these issues as we proceed. This (ad hoc) committee will gather input from all the neighbors who will be affected by this new center.”

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