Colchester Commission on Aging
Regular Meeting Minutes
Monday, April 13, 2009 – Colchester Senior Center
Members Present: Chairman Jean Stawicki, Vice-Chair Clara Erickson, Bernie Erickson, Sue Maikshilo, Barbara Warden, Bill Wagner
Members Absent: Betty Ann Oppelt
Others Present: Patti White, Friends of the Senior Center
1. Call Meeting to Order: The meeting was called to order at 1:04 p.m.
2. Minutes: Jean Stawicki asked to remove the line regarding the mentoring program between high school students and seniors in the Old Business, Accreditation section of the March minutes as this was a suggestion, not a current program. Sue Maikshilo motioned to approve the regular meeting minutes of 3/9/09 with this change. Clara Erickson seconded. All other members present voted in favor. MOTION CARRIED.
3. Financial Report: Bernie Erickson reported that the senior center collected $300.65 in March from bus transportation. Of that, $85.00 was from out of town trips including shopping, The Gong Show and lunch. Clara Erickson motioned to accept the Financial Report. Sue Maikshilo seconded. All other members present voted in favor. MOTION CARRIED.
4. Budget: Patti White reported that next year’s budget hasn’t changed from last month. If there are more cuts to be made, it probably won’t be until after the town referendum.
6. Chairman’s Report: Jean Stawicki reported that Theresa Hendricksen was sworn in as a new Commission member. She also stated that she and Patti attended the Lebanon Senior Center’s open house. They spoke with the architect who offered to provide some preliminary services to Colchester.
7. Senior Center Director’s Report: Patti White stated that all grants have been sent in including those for the replacement bus and the renewal for municipal transportation. KEB confirmed that they received the grant for outside furniture and are waiting to hear from the Lion’s Club about the privacy screen.
There will be another trip to the casino since there is a big demand for this particular trip.
AARP will finish the tax work on April 15th and will return later in the month to hold a safe driving course. Patti added that Norm Dupuis was elected the new president of the Colchester Chapter of AARP. His term will begin in September.
5. Friends of the Senior Center: Norm Dupuis began by saying he had hoped Rosemary Coyle would be there. Patti said that Rosemary was unable to attend, but did ask her to pass on that the Commission on Aging is a separate entity by Town Charter and is unable to join with any other group.
At this point Adam Turner, Town Planner, joined the meeting.
Norm said that the Friends of the Senior Center have done extensive research by visiting or talking to the senior centers of Lebanon, East Haddam, Hebron, Wallingford and Marlborough. They were looking for building plans, floor plans, square feet, parking and storage. From that information, they developed a needs assessment for Colchester and came up with about 20 items. They converted that into a survey but received only about 25 responses. They found 2 architects who would volunteer their time. They then developed a proposal of a 7,200 square feet senior center.
In 2001, the town engineer prepared a site plan for a community center. It included a 30,000 square foot building with 2 floors. The 1st floor was for the senior center and the 2nd for a community center. It was to be located on the land to the left of the existing Town Hall, with access from Louis Lane.
The current senior center is laid out as a school, with 4 equal rooms of 998 square feet each. The proposed center has a carport for vans, offices for the administrative assistant and director as soon as you walk in the building. It also includes a conference room, rooms for crafts, technology, billiards, library, multi-purpose, dining, a café area and 3-4 storage areas. The proposed building is 90’ x 80’.
Norm stated that the Friends of the Senior Center feel there should be one voice speaking for the new senior center. Jean added that Linda indicated at the last meeting that in order for the project to get off the ground, the Commission on Aging would have to present it to the town. Norm asked the Commission if they would add an item to the agenda for this early in the meeting so they could attend that part then break off to hold their own meeting.
Norm passed out the report that they filed with the First Selectman on January 24, 2008 as well as a list of 24 items that they feel are wrong with the current facility.
Norm said they need to get the Board of Selectmen to designate a site of land for the new center because they can’t go any further with drawings or architectural work without that. Adam Turner asked whether the town is supportive of building a separate senior center. He thought they had already decided on a combined senior center/community center. Bill Wagner added that there has never been a written decision stating a community center. Adam stated that he’d need 1) a site, 2) a firm decision from the Selectmen stating that they would support a stand-alone senior only configuration, 3) cost structure and 4) financing.
Norm said if you take the 7,200 square feet and multiply by $200 per square foot, you get a cost of $1.4 million. He feels that they could get $750,000 from HUD and $500,000 from the state, leaving a balance of 250,000 for town bonding. Patti asked Adam about timing for the CDBG grants. Adam answered that if you are approved for the funding, the money is available when you receive the approval. He added that Federal and State monies are currently available to request. Bill stated that if a bond is retiring, then this could step in and have no effect on Colchester taxpayers. He also said that it’s a perfect time to bond because of low interest rates.
Adam remarked how lucky the town is because of Norm and the Friends of the Senior Center. They have done so much work on this project already that they are close to being able to move forward. Without this start, he would not be as optimistic as he is. He added that HUD will want to know what the need is, how do you plan to address it, does the building meet all standards, land and whether the community’s on board with a commitment and financing. Adam also offered to attend meetings and help in any way he could.
At this point, Adam left the meeting.
Norm said that under Federal Standards, a senior is age 62 and older. There are some people under this age who use the senior center. They would have to see about this when looking into HUD funding because for them to finance a senior center, it would only be able to be used by seniors. Patti asked if disabled citizens would be exempt from this. Norm said they’d need to look into that also.
Jean asked Norm how other towns handled the project at this point. Norm said they would probably establish a building committee with different members of the community. Jean wanted to know where to start to bring it to the Board of Selectmen. She proposed holding a vote with the Commission on Aging to see if they want to take this on as a project. Clara asked if this was what Rosemary meant they couldn’t do. Patti restated that Rosemary just said that they were a separate entity and couldn’t join with any other group. Bill and Jean felt that this is exactly what the Commission is supposed to do by being advocates for Colchester seniors.
Sue Maikshilo motioned for the Commission on Aging to build on the work of the Friends of the Senior Center to prepare a written presentation to submit to the Board of Selectmen with a recommendation to build a new senior center and to also present to the town as a whole. Bill seconded. All other members present voted in favor. MOTION CARRIED.
8. Old Business: No new items were reported.
9. New Business: No new items were reported.
10. Adjournment: Sue Maikshilo motioned to adjourn the meeting at 2:15. Barbara Warden seconded. All other members present voted in favor. MOTION CARRIED.