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Letter to the Editor: Dedham Can Have Both: Beautiful Open Spaces and a New Senior Center

Senior Center Site Consensus Committee strongly supports building a senior center, but opposes locating another large building on the Endicott Estate.

 

To the Dedham Patch, 

Recently, we met with the Board of Selectmen to voice our thoughts on the proposal to site a Senior Center at the . While we strongly support a Senior Center, we oppose locating another large building and the associated increase in roads and parking on Dedham’s precious open parkland, the Endicott Estate. Green, open and accessible spaces are becoming rare in Dedham. In fact, Dedham ranks near the bottom of towns in our region for available open space. The Endicott Estate serves as Dedham’s common backyard, hosting town-wide concerts, rambles, and festivals as well as family picnics, sledding and kite flying. The estate is an open space that must be protected.

Any new town building, including a Senior Center, is a public resource and thus should be a public decision. However, the current Senior Center proposal at the Endicott Estate has been formulated, in large part, in private meetings. Yet this building would serve a public purpose and its maintenance and upkeep would be funded by our town budget. It is our belief that any proposal for a public building should follow a public process from the outset. 

Dedham has recently succeeded in siting and building two new modern, well-equipped schools. This was accomplished by the School Building Rehabilitation Committee: a broad-based committee with representation from the Selectmen, the FinCom, the Capital Expenditures Committee, Town Meeting members from across town, and the School Committee. The School Committee did not own or control this process. Through the SBRC, the entire town owned the process and the positive result. We propose to follow this model to plan a senior center by asking Town Meeting to create a Senior Center Siting Committee comprised of members from the Selectmen, the FinCom, the Council on Aging, the SBRC, and Town Meeting members to determine the most appropriate site and a fiscally viable budget.   

There have been many locations proposed for a senior center over the years that were acceptable to smaller, narrowly based and sometimes private groups. Some locations were denied by Town Meeting, some by Dedham voters and some by small groups of seniors. Nobody has done the job of finding a senior center location that is acceptable to a broad range of citizens and interests. That is why we are proposing to settle this issue once and for all: put the authority and wisdom of Town Meeting to work siting and building a senior center for Dedham. Working together, we can assure that Dedham does not settle for the loss of one town asset to obtain another.

Senior Center Site Consensus Committee

Lindsay and Cindy Barich

Maurice and Ellen Burns

Fred Civian

Jim and Susan Fay

Joe Findlen

Andrew and Roberta Lawlor

Bob and Kathy Schortmann

Dave and Cherylann Sheehan

 

Holly dixon July 16, 2012 at 01:10 PM
A comment to the committee: there is no question that the town needs a senior center and we need one now,not in the next five years. The Endicott is the perfect location there is plenty of parking there and the seniors would not leave such a big green foot print as you think. Finally a group has done their homework and has all the fact and figures on this and a small group that live right by the Endicott Estate are the ones who are trying to prevent this from happening. Its funny this group is so worried about the green space disappearing in Dedham how come none of you commented about the 8,500 solar panels that will be going behind my house?????? Really people so it okay that space can be used but the space by your houses cannot........ hmmm something doesnt feel right about this some parts of Dedham are greener than others???? Be happy you will be looking at a place where people can come every day socialize enjoy the library and the greenhouses it could be worse you could be looking at 8,500 solar panels every day like i will!!!!! Holly Dixon Ashcroft st. the house in front of the solar panels
jean benway July 16, 2012 at 03:09 PM
The proposed senior center is not new construction, but an adaptation of the barn on the property. There is an artists rendering available. The cost would be much less than new construction elsewhere. Seniors are good neighbors. Westwood has a lovely senior center. Are we not as worthy?
Elizabeth A. Doris-Gustin July 16, 2012 at 04:36 PM
There is little to no support for a Senior Center in Dedham, especially building one on the Endicott Estate. We have had more town meeting votes and town votes, on a senior center and the answer is always the same- NO! NO! NO! If seniors want a center - find land that is not on the Estate, Town is not going to support a senior center on the Endicott no matter how many drawings of a building are submitted.
jean benway July 16, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I repeat. The proposal is not for new construction. The building is already there.
Andrew Lawlor July 17, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Jean: I have attended two presentations on the proposal. The proposed facility is an 8600 square foot structure that will include and greatly expand the current barn. The footprint of the proposed expanded structurewould be approximately the same size as the current mansion. Andy Lawlor
Chris July 17, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Andrew, I have attended some meetings as well and learned that the foot print of the proposed senior center will be smaller than the main house. But more importantly, the main house is about 25,000 g.s.f., while the proposed senior center is about 8,600 g.s.f. That's quite a difference!!!!! Why do we keep hearing from the opposing neighbors that the center is going to be as large as the main house, when CLEARLY the senior center will ONLY be 1/3 the size?????
Edna July 18, 2012 at 12:59 AM
1/3 the size because it is 1 story, not 3 stories. The Endicott Estate is 25,000 square feet between three stories. Its footprint is 9000 square feet. The footprint of the senior center is 8000 square feet. In terms of green space lost, they are very close in size. http://www.dailynewstranscript.com/news/x996542060/Proposed-Dedham-senior-center-at-Endicott-Estate-draws-opposition?zc_p=0#axzz20vnPqgp7
Fred Civian July 18, 2012 at 12:16 PM
There's something off it we're still having to debate what size senior center is being proposed. That information should be readily and simply available. Perhaps it's posted by the Council on Aging Town site . . . but yesterday I searched for it and couldn't find it. We will ask Fall Town Meeting to set up a public process to site a senior center in Dedham that will include posting plans and possible locations clearly so that we all have a chance to see what is proposed . . . having to debate here whether it's a new building or not, how big the new building will be, what additional paving is needed and so on is odd.
Linda Young July 18, 2012 at 04:06 PM
When my children were in school and I was a Town Meeting member, I remember meeting seniors who were saying they wouldn't live long enough to ever see a Senior Center in Dedham. How sad I thought and now here I am. My children are grown and I am a senior myself and I wonder the same thing. We have built new schools, purchased land for recreation purposes for our kids. Somehow the seniors always get left behind, like second class citizens. I do participate at the COA but the space is too small. We deserve a building of our own where we can meet, exercise, do crafts etc. The Endicott Estate is the perfect spot, the library and greenhouses are there for the seniors to use and there already is a parking lot. I cannot believe we would be in any way disruptive to the neighborhood. If this proposal goes away and we are back to square one, I predict there will never be a place for seniors in Dedham. And like the seniors I listened to in the past -- I feel I will probably never live long enough to see a real Senior Citizen Center in this town. Linda Young
Chris July 18, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Edna, Exactly my point, thank you for agreeing with me. The main house is 3 stories, while the senior center is ONLY 1 story. BIG difference!!!!!! Therefore, no one can say that they are the same size!
Chris July 18, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Very well said Linda! I would hope you could send this into the newspapers to be printed, so that everyone has a chance to read it? Giving those who do not have access to the internet, especially seniors, the chance to read your sentiments!!!!! As they are shared by MANY of the towns residents!!!!
Linda Young July 18, 2012 at 08:05 PM
OK Chris, I emailed the Transcript editor but have no idea how to email the the Editor of the Dedham Times -- do you have this info maybe? Linda
Chris July 18, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Linda, Thank you for sending it to the papers! The email for the Times is dtimes@rcn.com
Edna July 18, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Linda, The reason the other projects succeed where the senior center hasn't is willingness of the seniors to give up some control. It's very unfortunate that this is happening again. Trying to take over a portion of the Endicott Estate without going through Town Meeting and getting consensus approval follows the same pattern . I am personally not opposed to the senior center, but I do think it will fail without broad support. Supporters insisting they won't be disruptive, and an 8000 sq ft footprint is not large, will not gain that. Any group looking to establish important new site in town, especially one that is proposed to be part of the Endicott Estate, needs to a open to input from others.

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