Town Votes 'Yes' on Senior Center Site Committee
After an intense debate Monday night, Article 7 was approved after a vote of 108-103.
The location of a new senior center has been an issue in Dedham for almost 30 years. And Monday night's debate was a clear indicator that a lot of residents are losing their patience.
"I'm embarrassed that we didn't [approve the senior center], after all this time," resident Robert Chaffee said. "The process is underway lets not make our seniors wait any longer."
But one of the main issues for many residents was the "lack of community involvement" in the process of the project. Many said they believed that a location should have been decided after a Town Hall Meeting, not before.
Article 7 will create a Senior Center Site Committee, which will allow Dedham residents to be involved with the planning process.
According to the article, the committee will "make a recommendation as to the rehabilitation and/or expansion of current town buildings or construction of a new town building for a Senior Center."
During the meeting, members of the Council of Aging said they felt that the article would only cause more delays, and that the Endicott Estate would be the best location for the center.
Leanne Jassett, the Chairperson for the council, said she believes that using the Endicott Estates would be the most economical.
"We would be using a building that is already in need of repair, whether or not this article passes," she said. "We should not tolerate the 'not in my backyard' mentality."
Susan Fay has always been against the idea of having a Senior Center at the Endicott Estate. But she still believes that Dedham is in need of a facility.
"We are also disappointed that the senior center has not been successful," Fay said. "But we should not put efforts in a decision that would fail years from now."
Fay explained the need for community input and in-depth planning before anyone breaks ground.
Vice Chairman Mike Butler supported the idea of involving the Building, Planning and Construction Committee (BPPC) because their involvement was able to help with the new police station. And he reminded the town that plans for a Senior Center would still be delayed because no one raised any money or offered any in-depth analysis for the project.
"There is no formal proposal," Butler said. "And there are a lot of things that still needs to be defined."
Now that Article 7 is approved a committee will be made to raise $50,000 to research "findings and recommendations" for the Dedham Senior Center project. The town set a deadline for the reports to be ready by the 2014 Annual Town Hall Meeting for discussion.
But some residents, like Elizabeth Martin, are hoping to see developments as soon as possible.
"If we don't support a modest option for a senior center, then there will be no senior center in my lifetime, or for most of the members in this room," Martin said.