Attleboro City Hall was packed for the first time in several years. Forty-one senior citizens sat in the audience, wearing blue clad tee-shirts announcing on the back of their shirts that “SENIORS VOTE”. The entire Council on Aging was present, with their spokespersons, former Attleboro State Rep and City Councilor John Lepper, and retired City Council President Frank Cook. They both gave a presentation requesting the City Council to approve a feasibility study motion sent down from Mayor Heroux in February.
The proposed motion has sat without a committee vote since it was sent to the Finance Committee on February 15. It reads:
From the docket of February 15, 2022:
“I entertain a motion to appropriate $150,000 to fund a feasibility study for a new senior center.”
The following letter was submitted by the Council on Aging on May 3.
Dear Council President DiLisio and Municipal Councilors:
We, the Board members of the Council on Aging, strongly encourage you to vote, without further delay, to approve the mayor’s request that $150,000 be appropriated for a Council on Aging feasibility study. For many years the COA Board has understood that the current Attleboro Senior Center at 25 South Main Street is inadequate to meet the needs of Attleboro’s growing senior population.
While it is self-evident to us that a different, larger facility with adequate parking is needed, we understand that not everyone, even in city government, is aware of this. To document the extent of this deficiency the Council on Aging commissioned (in 2019), a study entitled, “Aging in the City of Attleboro”. We appreciate that nearly all of you, (the City Councilors) supported the appropriation that funded this study. The Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston conducted the yearlong study. It included over one thousand Attleboro seniors, and a peer community comparison with Barnstable, Chicopee, Haverhill, Leominster, Peabody, and Taunton. The study was published in June 2020 and is available on the Attleboro city website.
The primary conclusion of the study was, “The physical space and location of the Attleboro COA does not currently meet the needs and interests of the Attleboro older adult population (pg. 9 of the study). Compared to its peer communities, Attleboro’s Senior Center is the oldest and smallest space.” (Page 78 of the study). Under the skillful leadership of Amanda Blount, director of Attleboro’s Literacy Center, a strategic plan was developed to implement the recommendations of this study.
The mayor submitted a request in February 2022, for a $150,000 appropriation to produce a feasibility study for a new senior center. The study will determine the parameters of the facility, what it will cost, and where it can be sited. COA Director Melissa Tucker has appeared before the City Council and the Finance Committee explaining the need for this feasibility study. She was accompanied by Jack Jacobi, Chair of the Municipal Building Commission, who explained the purpose of a feasibility study. The Finance Committee has asked for additional data and. to the best of her ability. Director Tucker has provided it.
It is now May. The mayor’s request has been before you for three months. The Council on Aging Board strongly advocates that you expedite a vote on the feasibility study. We fully understand the burden placed on the Finance Committee as budget determinations for fiscal year 2023 approach.
Therefore, it is time to act on the feasibility study appropriation before budgetary considerations dominate the City Council’s time and effort.
Joseph Feroce, Chair
Carol O’Connor, Vice-Chair
Dr. Raymond Guilette, Secretary
Dr. Steven Bensson
John A. Lepper
One major piece of limited business occurred in the brief City Council meeting that followed the public hearings:
- The City Council voted 10 to 0 to approve a loan order of $5,2000,000 to replace the ozone system at the west street water treatment plant. This includes the design, permitting, bidding, construction, and construction oversight costs at the plant, located at 1296 West Street, Attleboro.
As explained by our Water Dept. Director recently, this loan is needed to keep Attleboro’s water treatment plant working effectively. This expenditure cannot be delayed or avoided.
All my best,