AMHERST – The 50-Plus Club on Croft Street has been too successful.
The well-maintained building has a capacity of 110. But so many seniors are flocking to the building – the club has more than 160 members – they want to expand.
“We’ve come a long way in 10 years,” said Merrill Murray.
The club president is a youngster at just 55. He joined in 2003, and is in his fourth one-year term as president. In the intervening decade, member numbers have grown by about 50, he estimated.
The building isn’t that old.
“We’ve been in (it) since 1991,” said Murray.
The planned extension would run the 90-foot length of the building, and widen it by 20 feet. Plans are completed and R. L. McLean Construction will do the work. Murray said he’s close friends with the contractor and knows the quality of their work.
The challenge is paying for the renovation.
The president estimated the club has about $36,000 to put towards the project, which he said is estimated to cost around $95,000. An application for grant money the club submitted was denied. A resubmission is planned.
The failed bid for funds was disheartening, said Murray. He gave examples of ways the current hall falls short. For example, when playing darts, they can only use six of their seven boards due to crowding. And with limited space, events require setup and teardown.
“It’s hard on them,” he said.
Charging higher membership dues isn’t an option. Seniors are careful with their money, Murray said, and club members pay to participate in activities. The president thinks they may have to reach out to the broader Amherst community for help.
“Let’s take care of our seniors,” he said. “They’ve taken care of us.”