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
Jim and Susan Fay
Andrew and Roberta Lawlor
Bob and Kathy Schortmann
Dave and Cherylann Sheehan