By Lisa Keen, Globe Correspondent
When it comes to providing services to senior citizens, Wellesley’s in the “dark ages,” town Selectman Harriet Warshaw told an audience Monday night.
Her solution: a $5.8-million, stand-alone senior center.
A Senior Study Committee, which Warshaw led, is recommending that a senior center be built at 496 Washington Street, to provide one central location for seniors to meet and hold programs and other activities. The site, which is in the center of town and within walking distance of a number of senior housing clusters, currently holds what used to be the American Legion house. The Wellesley American Legion chapter turned the building over to the town last April.
Warshaw said a preliminary estimate suggests a stand-alone center would cost approximately $5.8 million. Paid for over 20 years, said Warshaw, the facility would, at its peak, cost taxpayers about $43 more in taxes per year.
According to Warshaw, Wellesley currently spends about $41 per senior for its population over 60, a population that comprises about 21 percent of the town’s population. Compared to other towns, she said, “We’re on the dark ages side for services.”
Warshaw noted that numerous surrounding communities –including Brookline, Newton, Needham, Waltham, and Watertown, —have stand-alone senior centers. Currently, programs for seniors in Wellesley are held in a variety of settings, including the public library, the community center, and the recreation center.
Selectmen did not take a formal vote on the senior study committee’s plan to ask town meeting this spring for $400,000 to produce a detailed design for the center. But Selectman Chair Gregory Mills said services to Wellesley seniors are “an underfunded activity” and that the proposal is an “exciting prospect for the town.”
Town Executive Director Hans Larsen said the Selectmen would be asked to weigh in with a formal vote after the Senior Study Committee presents its plan to the town’s Advisory and Permanent Building committees this week. (Wed and Thur, Feb. 11 and 12).
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