After renovation, Stratford senior center reopens to rave reviews

HARTFORD, Conn. —State Representative Ben McGorty (R-122nd) was recently recognized for his exceptional voting record in support of both

Stratford — It’s been a long 18 months for Richard Olsen.

A Stratford resident since 1979, Olsen is a regular at the town’s senior center.

“I usually sit in the lunchroom and I play cards, or go downstairs and watch them play pool,” said Olsen, who lost the use of his left arm and leg due to a burst blood vessel in his brain 15 years ago. “We have a good time.

But like so many other services, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the Baldwin Center on West Broad Street, a gathering place for Olsen and many other seniors in town.

Town officials took advantage of the closure, though, by moving forward with renovation work totaling roughly $1.15 million that included a new elevator, flooring, light fixtures, paint, furniture, video monitors, and an energy-efficient boiler, just to name some of the improvements.More than 100 seniors attended a re-opening Wednesday morning to celebrate the completion of the work.

“It has been a long, long time coming,” Mayor Laura Hoydick said at the beginning of the ceremony.

Olsen agreed.

“I’ve been calling since May,” he said, adding that he is looking forward to coming regularly again.

“I’ll see who’s here,” he said.

Hoydick credited former 2nd District Town Council member Ron Tichy with working with Public Works Director Raynae Serra and Chief Administrative Officer Chris Tymniak to include the project in the town’s capital improvement program.

Future work will include a new roof, possibly with solar panels, the mayor said.

Tammy Trojanowski, the town’s director of community and senior services, likened the work to an episode of “Extreme Makeover,” noting that in addition to senior services, the Baldwin Center is also used by school and community groups.

“Does it not look amazing here? It really does,” she said while thanking public works and the main contractor for the project, Milford-based Olympus Construction. “They went above and beyond to make our center sparkle inside and out.”

But as fine as the renovation work is, she said, it takes the seniors themselves to “bring the Baldwin Center to life every day.”

“You inspire us to double down on our efforts to ensure that Stratford remains a place where we age with love and dignity,” Trojanowski said. “We lean in to listen and learn from your wisdom and we are truly honored and humbled to be a part of your lives.”

Carl Glad, a member of the town’s Commission on Aging, said the commission would be spearheading an upcoming needs assessment survey to see what other programs could be offered to the town’s seniors.

The building is named after Raymond E. Baldwin, who spent his formative years and early career in Stratford before becoming governor, U.S. Senator, and chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Several members of Baldwin’s family were on hand for Wednesday’s celebration, including grandson Jim Baldwin, who recalled attending the opening of the center with his grandfather in 1979.

“I know he was honored then and I know that he would be honored today,” Baldwin said, noting his grandfather’s commitment to community, volunteerism, and public service. “It’s a wonderful, heart-warming thing.”

After a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, seniors were invited to see the renovations for themselves, sign up for programs, and grab complimentary refreshments and goody bags.

Oronoque Village resident Marie Orlowe said she’s been coming to the senior center for years to play rummikub or bingo, and to attend classes such as glass painting.

“It’s fabulous,” Orlowe said of the renovations. “It certainly needed a makeover after 47 years. It’s beautiful. What a change.”

businesses and workers.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), which represents thousands of large and small employers in the Constitution State, recently gave McGorty a 100% score on its annual State House Voting Record Scorecard.

Lawmakers were judged based on their support for policies that create jobs and bring businesses to Connecticut, as well as their opposition to job-killing taxes and harmful mandates.

“Between a new tax on the truckers that stock our shelves and the governor’s ever-elusive TCI ‘gas tax’ proposal, Connecticut businesses need lawmakers that will stand beside them and fight back against unaffordable mandates and taxes coming at them from Hartford,” McGorty said. “I’m proud to have worked on behalf of all of our proud business owners and workers in the 122nd District who know that this state still has more work left to be done to reduce taxes and get folks back to work. Now is the time to kick-start our state’s economic recovery, and we can do that by listening to what our state’s employers need to get this economy back on track.”

CBIA’s policy initiatives feature in a number of the bills, with those recommendations designed to help businesses manage the high costs of navigating COVID-19 restrictions, create and retain jobs, and lead Connecticut’s economic recovery.

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