by Glenn C. Koenig, webmaster at Town Wide Mall
The current facility has very poor access for those with mobility challenges, a lack of adequate space for its functions, a leaky roof, and other problems. The center has been at that location, 50 Brown Street, since 2015. (For more details, please see, "An Uphill Struggle," a story we published back on October 3rd:
On October 11th, at Maynard’s Special Town Meeting, voters approved the article that was submitted by the Senior Center Focus Group, but the vote was ruled to be "advisory only" because of errors in how the article was written. That meant that the money hoped for by the group could not be appropriated. Our report on the Special Town Meeting, on October 11th, has more details:
Although the funds desired were not available, the vote in favor served two purposes: It brought visibility to the situation for both the voters present and the public at large, and it encouraged those who wanted to establish the center by letting them know that the voters supported their effort, overall.
At the meeting tonight, the Council on Aging was joined by members of Friends of Maynard Seniors, a stand alone fundraising and awareness group, members of the Senior Center Focus Group, an informal group of activists working to move the center to new quarters, as well as two members of the Select Board and a member of the Finance Committee.
As a result, the Select Board is now set to move forward to establish a new town committee, called the "Senior Center Committee" to facilitate a collaboration of everyone interested in the effort. The Board could move on this as early as their next meeting, Tuesday, December 19th.
At tonight's meeting, there was unanimous support for exploring both an interim as well as a long term plan. The interim concept is to lease currently available space in an existing building and move the center there as soon as possible. The long term plan is to take advantage of research soon to be conducted by a consulting group at UMass, Boston, ("The Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging") which is set to survey the needs of the community and it's senior population, then recommend specifics to construct a fully functional Senior Center at a later date.
There was also widespread support at the meeting to incorporate a Community Center in the long term plan, with the understanding that different community groups might benefit from holding activities there at different hours of the day and evening on a shared basis.
Council on Aging Chair Mary Ann Shields expressed optimism that members of the new committee, once formed, would first get to know each other and their individual working styles and then start digging into the work at hand.
The new committee is tentatively designed to include a few at-large members from the town's general population, as was proposed in item III. of the agenda for tonight's meeting:
As it is likely that the Select Board will vote on "the charge" to establish the new committee to include such at-large members, they invite anyone in the town who wishes to participate to contact them as soon as possible by sending an e-mail message, stating their desire, care of the Town Administrator: email@example.com
With somewhere around 3000 seniors in Maynard (depending on what age bracket you choose), it seems well past time to get going on a new center! For way too long, the current Senior Center has been stuck in seriously inadequate facilities, preventing many seniors for whom it was created, from taking advantage of the services they need.
I urge anyone who wishes to join this committee, or just wishes to support this committee's work, to let the Select Board or Town Administrator know. You can also get in touch with the Council on Aging directly by visiting their web page: https://www.townofmaynard-ma.gov/164/Council-on-Aging
It may not seem likely to some people, but residents of Maynard over the age of 60 or 65 represent a vital and important source of enthusiasm and support for community life and cohesiveness in Maynard, in general. In our rapidly changing and unpredictable world, the strength of our community is likely to be needed more and more in the next few years.
After all, I'm included in this group (I'm 73 now) and I'm doing what I can to support community cohesiveness and spirit partly by publishing this news feed. Believe me, I'm just getting started.
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