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Wednesday, May 06 2015

Human Rights Commission To Look at Senior Services

Adapted from a Greenfield Human Rights Commission (HRC) press release:

The Greenfield Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing on Monday, May 11, 2015, at 6PM, in the town hall meeting room, on the need for a new senior center. The guest speaker will be Hope Macary, Director of the Greenfield Council on Aging.

According to the Greenfield Council on Aging and the Greenfield New Senior Center Committee, the present Greenfield Senior Center at the Weldon House on High Street has been unable to reasonably meet the needs of the town's senior community for years. There are pervasive problems with space restrictions, facility size, leaks, air quality, and privacy. As an example, fitness class sizes are limited or cancelled due to space restrictions and special events. Large columns in the main room make full use impossible. There is no privacy for exercise or computer classes. Further, the kitchen is presently unusable with leaks due to broken equipment, ceiling leaks, and lack of heat. The bathrooms are too small and poorly ventilated. There is no room to expand classes or programs due to these restrictions. There is also no place to wait for and see the bus for seniors without being outside in the elements during inclement weather or the heat during summer.

According to Director Macary, the present senior center is 7,000 square feet, when it should have at least 12,000 to 15,000 square feet, and served more than 1,500 seniors last year. Further, she has said that, because the center is a tenant-at-will of the Weldon House, which means the landlord could ask it to leave at any time, the town doesn't want to spend money renovating or repairing the present space. Also, there have been plans, feasibility studies, and architectural renderings over the last decade or more that have not come to fruition for a new Greenfield Senior Center.

The Human Rights Commission seeks the input and opinions of the public on the issue of how to best support and advocate for the creation of a new Greenfield Senior Center.

Lewis Metaxas, Chairman of the Greenfield Human Rights Commission, stated, "The need for a new senior center, at this late stage, seems more than necessary. We here, in Greenfield, are presently contructing a new, and also much needed, high school for our youth. I would hope that we, as a community, can extend the same sense of urgency and respect to our seniors that we do to our children."

The Commission invites the testimony and participation of all residents of Greenfield and Franklin County that may have an opinion in this regard.