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Will Dedham Finally See a Senior Center?

Article 3 on the Monday April 8 Special Town Meeting warrant could play a big role in whether the town will build a senior center or not.

Will Dedham finally see a senior center?

After years of trying, Council on Aging Board chairwoman Leanne Jasset is hoping so after next Monday's Special Town Meeting.

“It’s probably been 30 years that the town has been trying to build a senior center in Dedham,” Jasset said.

“Some of it has to do with funding, but most of it has to do with the NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) scenario. And most every neighborhood that it’s been proposed in the neighbors have been very outspoken about why they don’t want it there,” she said.

Jasset and the Dedham Senior Center Foundation - a non-profit organization formed to raise funds for the construction of a senior center in town - believe that the ideal location for a center would be at the Endicott Estate.

In 2011 the group raised $50,000 in private funds to do a feasibility study of the Endicott grounds. The study showed that converting and expanding the old barn on the property would be best suited for a senior center.

The study, done by Dore & Whittier Architects of Newburyport, called for a 8,662-square-foot one story center at a cost of about $4 million.

According to Jasset, opponents of the plan did not want to see a senior center built on the estate property and wanted to seek other options.

In last November's Special Town Meeting Article 7 passed, which formed a Senior Center Site Committee comprised of nine members to explore all options in the town for building a center, rather than looking at only the Endicott Estate.

The article also appropriated $50,000 for the committee for a feasibility study of their own.

Jasset said sees the passing of the article as a waste of resources.

“Most people are very angry to think that $50,000 of hard earned taxpayers' money is being used to do something that’s already been done,” she said. “Think about what $50,000 could do.”

After Article 7 passed, a petition was filed for a new article to readdress the issue at the Special Town Meeting April 8.

A new article was drafted - Article 3 - which asks to disband the site committee formed by Article 7 in November, rescind the $50,000 in appropriated funds and ask the town to build a senior center at the Endicott Estate using private funds.

“I am very cautiously hopeful that Article 3 will be approved,” Jasset said.

However, she admits they may face an uphill battle.

“It’s gotten divisive, it’s gotten personal, it’s gotten ugly,” she said. “It’s such an important and worthy cause and it’s gotten to the point where people aren’t speaking to one another, people are angry. That makes me very sad. It shouldn’t be about that.”

“Make no bones about it, there are lots and lots of needs. But it’s been 30 years so it’s time that the senior center went on the priority list," she said.

The Special Town Meeting will be Monday, April 8 at 7 p.m. at Dedham High School.

domenic stagno April 02, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Shame on the town of Dedham for not prioritizing its seniors and getting a Senior Center built for over 30 years. There is no acceptable explanation or excuse! Seniors are not valued, as are younger people in our town, and in American society in general. And Shame on the "Not In My Backyard Attitude" of some of our citizens. We value, as we should, the history of our historic places, such as Endicott Estate but we don't value the needs of the elderly and a desire to learn from the life long wisdom that our elderly have to give if only someone asks them. Why don't they have a right to the hallowed ground of Endicott Estate? Why are they not worthy? The best we Americans do with our elderly is to eventually warehouse them in very, patheitc, sub-standard Nursing Homes that resemble prisons. I speculate that we don''t want to put our elderly in a prominent place like Endicott Estate because as they have gotten older, we feel that they are not aesthetically appealing to look at and when we look at them, we may feel guilty. So, I guess the better idea is to take them out of view and warehouse them or put them on Route ! next to a big box store, where they won't be noticed!. Remember no matter how much denial you want to remain in about aging, we will all get there eventually and hopefully when we do it will be in a better place than we have now to offer and hopefully our families will not view us as useless and expendable. Seniors deserve equality just like anyone else NOW!
DedhamNewbie April 02, 2013 at 03:06 PM
I'd be in favor of making a new senior center the CENTERPIECE of redevelopment of already developed space rather than just tacking it onto the corner of one of the few remaining pieces of open space in the town. How about on the corner of Eastern and Rte 1 where the vacant commercial property is? That would create a natural bridge between Endicott AND provide easy access to town center amenities. Or, look at building something on the backside of Legacy area that would overlook the pond, which is currently wastefully hidden. It's a matter of figuring out how to make this great public project do more and be a central part of moving towards a future that isn't about sprawl.
Avon Barksdale April 02, 2013 at 03:26 PM
The people who are now seniors are the ones who refused to raise taxes and invest in town infrastructure from the mid-70s until the early 90s. They traded low property tax rates for crumbling roads, aging schools, and zero construction of municipal buildings - you know, like a senior center. So when you say "shame on Dedham" for "not prioritizing its seniors" it is the Dedham seniors who have only themselves to blame. Stop wagging your finger at the rest of the town, it's the seniors who decided not to invest in Dedham a long time ago and now a lot of them want to ask "WHERE'S MY SENIOR CENTER??"
Edna April 02, 2013 at 03:52 PM
It's more complicated that that. Seniors (voters) came out in droves to vote down the Dexter school proposal. The leaders of the Senior Center Site Committee bill are all seniors, too. This is not the town versus the seniors. Many seniors feel we need to do this the right way. The warrant at the Special Town Meeting would require the town to ONLY consider the Endicott Estate as an option. How is that in the town's best interest? What about the newly available property on Rustcraft Road (the Red Cross building)? It would be a great site for a senior center - huge, lots of parking, all on one level. It's at least worth looking at.
Barbara April 03, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Since the town is planning on moving the ECEC to the Dexter school, how about the senior center to be in the ECEC building? I know, it will be said that it is two floors, seniors can't walk up the stairs. The same can be said about three year olds, but they still doing so. The seniors are only for building at Endicott Estate, this is where they want and this what the think they should get. It is time for the seniors to accept a building that is already built and adapt. I don't think we need another building on Endicott Estate. I also wonder how many seniors will really use this center. I have two elderly parents who have no interest or intentions of going to this center and they have lived in the town for over 46 years and are in their 80's.

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