VFW construction has begun
Marion — Renovations to the new Benjamin D. Cushing Community Center are well underway.
The former VFW building, donated to the town at Fall Town Meeting, was designated as a senior/community center in December. Since the day the deed was signed over, town departments have been hard at work to find money for renovations and get started on improvements.
The Finance Committee was able to appropriate $69,000 from the reserve fund, and Facilities Manager Shaun Cormier said he thinks that will be enough to get everything done. Select Chair Jody Dickerson said the town has also received some money through private donations.
All renovations are being done in-house except for plumbing and electrical. Members of various departments, including facilities, public works and recreation, are pitching in to get the job done.
“It’s been a labor of love,” Council on Aging Director Heather Sylvia said.
Residents Norm Hills and Steve Gonsalves have also volunteered their time and talents to do some of the more skilled work.
“It’s all team Marion,” Dickerson said. “We’re all here for the benefit of the town.”
The first step in renovating the building was cleaning everything out. The building was emptied, fixtures taken off the wall and everything scrubbed down.
Most of the walls have new insulation and new paint. Many rooms have new heating and new ceilings. Workers are currently leveling floors and putting in ramps to make the building handicap accessible. The bathrooms have been expanded, the kitchen will be getting upgrades and the bar has been turned into a conference room.
The building may soon be unrecognizable to the former members of the disbanded VFW post, but Dickerson said the town couldn’t have asked for a more perfect space.
“We really can’t thank the veterans enough,” he said.
The Recreation Department and Council on Aging will each have a reception center in the building.
“We want to do some programs together,” Dickerson said.
While there is no hard date set, Cormier said the building will definitely be open for the election in the spring, and everything will be completely finished by July 1.