Letters To The Editor: Dec. 19, 2019
Current Senior Center An Embarrassment
I visited the Chatham Council on Aging yesterday for the first time ever. I’ve never been in the building but have read and listened to the discussions about building a new senior center. I am a full-time homeowner living year round in Chatham.
I was appalled at the inadequate conditions the COA is operating under at their Stony Hill location. It’s totally an embarrassment that our wonderful town with such lovely buildings, restaurants, inns, homes, etc. has a senior center that is a disgrace.
I had lunch there in a room that can only seat 40 people so if there is entertainment (as there was yesterday) the senior seating was limited to 29. The building (all floors) is cut up and inadequate for the wonderful programs the COA offers.
Further, regarding the parking—I arrived for a noon luncheon at 11:45 and there was no parking left—I parked on the street and tip toed through puddles and dirt to get to the front door. Not right!
While the facility is not adequate I have to say that the staff does an amazing job keeping the building clean, neat and tidy under very obvious difficult circumstances.
I urge everyone in our community who has any concerns about building a new center to tour the current one. I’m confident that you will come away with the same feeling that I did, that the COA on Stony Hill is not adequate, can’t be adequate and that we need a new center.
The selectmen, committee and all did extensive research into the available sites and spent many hours reviewing it. They found that purchasing 1610 Main St. was the best choice. Please support this decision or we will have to wait another 10 years.
I urge you to vote yes for the new center at the town meeting on Saturday, Jan. 4 at the Monomoy Middle School on Crowell Road.
Peggy Sullivan Crespo
Have Your Say On COA
On Saturday, Jan. 4, at 1 p.m., Chatham voters will meet for a special town meeting to decide whether the 1610 Main St. property is the safest and best site for the Council on Aging. The meeting will be held at the Crowell Road Middle School. The finance committee met on Dec. 12 to discuss the purchase. After a thorough discussion, they voted five against the purchase and two in favor. Committee members were concerned about additional costs that have not been determined for clearing, land fill, grading, retaining walls and drainage if the purchase is completed. It could cost over $400,000 in addition to the $750,000 purchase price. The current estimated total project cost is now about $8,694,000.
Finance committee members were concerned because town officials do not have a current appraisal of the site and have been depending on a 2018 appraisal. They stated that adequate information has not been provided to them to make a recommendation to attendees at the special town meeting. Some members were concerned about enough parking spaces. The project manager stated that 85 to 90 spaces are needed for special events. The site can only accommodate about 54 now. Permission from abutters will be necessary in order to handle additional parking for overflow events. Seniors will be required to cross Route 28 or walk from Ocean State Job Lot. So far, no discussions have taken place with abutters.
Please come to the meeting and vote whether or not you think the purchase is a good idea.
Right Senior Center, Wrong Location
At the Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 special town meeting, attendees will be asked to vote on the purchase of 1610 Main St. for the Council on Aging. The meeting begins at 1 p.m. and will be held at the Crowell Road Middle School.
This will be my first town meeting as a Chatham voter. Unfortunately, I am looking at the main issue to be voted on, the COA site, with a lot of negativity. Where you build is as important as what you build, and I cannot vote for this site. It is one third less than the approximate two acres recommended by the architect. The price is unreasonable. It was purchased only three years ago for $437,300, which means a 72 percent profit for the owner. It is only 400 feet from the airport runway protection zone. Until we know the actual extent and impact of the airport master plan on West Chatham, no municipal building should be built on this site. Hundreds of seniors could be wiped out if there were to be a mishap. Access is unfortunate and will only get worse when the West Chatham roadway project is complete. We were told that the COA requires 85-90 parking spaces and that only 54 can be accommodated on this site. The topography of the lot is challenging with a 49-foot drop over two-thirds of the rear lot to Bearses Pond and will have to be cleared, filled, graded, as well as using retaining walls in disregard for natural resource protection. The list goes on, including what might turn up in a geotechnical report.
Location, location, location! I cannot support this one.
Opportunity For The Council On Aging
On Jan. 4, the Chatham community will have the opportunity to address our need to build a new council on aging (COA) facility by supporting two articles at a special town meeting. The first article authorizes the board of selectmen to acquire the parcels of land at 1610 and 0 Main St. in the West Chatham village center diagonally across from the Oppenheim Medical Center and next to Captain Harding Park. After an exhaustive search of town properties, the selectmen unanimously voted to recommend purchase of this land for the new future home of the COA. No funding is necessary for this article now and is contingent upon funding being approved for a new COA facility at the May 2020 annual town meeting.
The second article will provide funding for architectural and engineering services and an owners project manager to determine the final size, site and building design, and the cost for our new COA. As voters, we need this information to make the informed decision necessary for final funding approval at the May 2020 annual town meeting. The cost for supporting this article on Jan. 4 at the special town meeting is $130,000.
With your support and participation during the next five months, we will be able to finalize a proposed COA that meets the needs of our senior population and is consistent with the quality of life we enjoy in Chatham.
Please join us on Jan. 4 at 1 p.m. at the Monomoy Middle School on Crowell Road and vote yes in support of our seniors and the rest of us who will someday be seniors as well.
David R. Whitcomb