Councilor Lovely sent me an email clarifying and correcting some points in my last post.
I read your blog regarding a new senior/community life center and I would like to make a couple of corrections.
With regard to my being on the “selection” committee, just a clarification if you will. I was one of twelve members of the senior center committee. I was also a member of the public input sub-committee. Over several months this sub-committee garnered public opinion in the form of a poll and focus groups, as well as public hearings. There was also a site plan committee (of which I did not sit on), who gleaned every potential public and private site in the city and culled the list to the present three sites with affirmation from the committee. And, last but not least, there was a programming committee (I did not sit on this either) who looked at the present and future needs of those who will use the center and what types of programming should be added or subtracted as we go forward.
Additionally, your blog has me supporting the Willows sites, which is not true. I have not publicly or privately picked one site over another. Each site has its positives and negatives, and it will now be up to the Mayor and City Council to determine which site will best suit the community based on those positives and negatives, and most importantly how to pay for it.
Also, as part of the public input process, it was determined that over 70% of seniors now drive to the current center, and as seniors become “younger” every year, I can only surmise that this number may increase. You may remember that one of the big factors with the demise of the senior center at St. Joseph’s was the lack of parking. The public input committee wanted to get a very clear picture of what the parking needs would be for a new center and we were very surprised to learn that most seniors drive to the current center or to other centers in Peabody and Beverly. The site plan committee used this information when they looked at potential sites to make sure that adequate parking will be part of any site that eventually gets selected for the new center.
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify this information. I look forward to continuing this process towards a new center.
As I explained privately, I don’t think I implied that Councilor Lovely supported any of the options presented, but I’m glad she clarified the other points.
Back to my opinions: I’m very troubled by the number of seniors who are driving in the face of higher gas prices and physical infirmities. We as a city are proposing parking space for a senior center that would be bitterly opposed by the neighborhood groups were it RCG that had the idea. We’re insuring that the senior center will be out of the way because that is most convenient for the automobile. We’re insuring that seniors will choose gas over food and, most importantly, insuring that they will never, ever relinquish their license even when they test 20/200, legal blindness or worse, in their eye exams.
But mostly, we’re confirming what I’ve come to fear from three years of working on Leo’s committee: There is a divide between “affluent” seniors and those less so, which represent much of our constituency. This bothers me very much, and it won’t get better as those “affluent” baby boomers age.