While the pandemic derailed the schedules of many people, businesses and projects, the renovations at Andover’s senior center are expected to be finished on time in April, 2021.

Andover Director of Elder Services Jane Burns said the town should receive an occupancy permit for the center in March and move-in is expected to take place the following month.

In May, she said, the center is likely to have its grand-opening ceremony.

That has been a long time coming.

“It was first presented to Town Meeting in 1993. It was defeated. It was then brought forward at the Town Meeting in 1996 and also defeated,” said Paul MacKay, chairman of the Council on Aging. “So, we got this approved in the 2019 Town Meeting. We’ve been at this a long time.”

The project began last March, right before the pandemic hit.

“The construction has moved forward," Burns said. "We did have a two-week shutdown because one of the workers had tested positive. ... But then (it) has proceeded along as scheduled.”

The renovation, with a price tag of roughly $6 million dollars, involves a 40% expansion. The center is also being renamed "The Robb Center."

The Select Board voted to change the name from The Center at Punchard to The Robb Center in November of 2019.

According to MacKay, chairman of the Council on Aging, Don and Vicky Robb were a couple who dedicated themselves to the town for five decades before their recent passing.

Don served on many town boards and committees and fought for the expansion and renovation of the senior center for decades before it was approved, MacKay said. Vicky was an influential member of the Andover/North Andover YMCA and managed Pomps Pond for years.

MacKay said the added space allows for more continuity of programming for the center, which only had one dedicated room for adult day care prior to the renovation. 

The renovated center will be 14,000 square feet; the old center was approximately 10,000 square feet in size.

“Amazingly with just 40% more space, every one of those rooms can become dedicated,” said MacKay. “We can have a stream of activities all day long.”

When finished, there will be a game room, recreation room, wellness room, a lifelong learning center, and more.

In addition, the center will have a reception area that opens into a lounge complete with a fire place.

“All these things wouldn’t be there if we didn’t expand by the 40%," McKay said. "It would be helter-skelter.” 

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