Senior Center Relocation Sparks Heated Debate at Seekonk Selectmen
The relocation of the temporary use for the senior center causes debate in Seekonk.
The Seekonk Board of Selectmen had an impromptu and heated discussion on Wednesday concerning the current area designated to take over responsibilities for the senior center as its replacement is constructed.
The debate stems from a current town meeting article which would hasten the move of responsibilities from the Pleasant Street School to the Knights of Columbus building.
Many of the seniors at the school say, according to a petition with 137 signatures, they do not want to move to the other area. But some selectmen say there are safety concerns with the current building, chief among which were no handicap access, fire egress issues and office occupancy.
“There’s two sides to this,” selectman Nelson Almeida said. “There’s a big safety matter here. But the end result is, as I understand, the seniors don’t want to be moved.”
Sagar add he agreed, and the town counsel said there are serious liability issues.
“Town counsel told our town administration that the town’s liability was established,” he said.
Almeida echoed the remark, saying that town counsel also said members of the board and the town would be held liable if any kind of incident occurred.
“My only concern is, and affects everyone on this board, is the longer they stay where they’re at, if someone should get hurt not only will the town be liable but we personally would be liable,” he said. “If it’s all necessary we need an adequate building that meets all of our needs.”
Selectman Robert McLintock said he disagreed, and the Pleasant Street School is perfectly safe, despite the less use its getting due to the lack of handicap access.
“The fact is that the rumor the building is dangerous or not safe, as it has been put out many times, is not accurate,” he said. “The building inspector and so forth has made a decision over there and it has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that it’s not handicapped accessible.”
McLintock went on to say the petition signed by 137 residents shows a concern among Seekonk residents.
“I just think that we moved too fast on this,” he said. “I cannot support [the town meeting warrant article] and I will not support. We’ve got to start working with other people who have concerns, as many of us do.”
Seekonk resident Lauren Walsh of 150 Hook St. said she shares McLintock’s concerns, but in a more general way.
“I was surprised this issue came up,” she said. “You do a disservice to this town to leave the town body, the public, people directly involved with this issue [not contacted]. Where the seniors themselves or members of boards or commissions are not contacted in advance not to have any input. This is the first time this was presented in a public forum. Bring it forward have all parties notified. Contact the seniors and directors directly involved with managing the facility at the pleasant street school. Involve reps from the Knights of Columbus and the YMCA. This had all the makings of a slam dunk move to get this article on the special town meeting warrant. It is an atrocity; it is what people are sick and tired of in this town. You need to engage the public to solve problems.”