Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Combine Island Senior Centers

Undeniable is the need for cities and towns to manage their funding even more judicially than in the past. The merging of school districts has been on the drawing table for more than 30 yrs. with only reputed cost savings and facing many obstacles. I suggest another more easily accomplished possibility offered by combining services of senior centers. The resulting outcome could offer more community benefits.

Right now our island supports two in Newport, one in Middletown, and one in Portsmouth. All three face financial difficulties. Their mission is to enable seniors to remain in current housing while availing themselves of community assistance- a noble and financially astute plan of benefit to all. Seniors belong in their community in their current housing whenever possible. Specialized group housing is expensive.

Supposing these centers offered one newsletter with one set of activities (different places, different times). These activities could also reach out to all segments of the community offering cooking classes, exercise, fine arts, etc. Combined centers operating loosely under one umbrella could become a reality. Think multi-purpose centers here.

Currently Newport offers its Edward King House for rental and seniors there keep that funding. Why does Middletown not do the same at its location? I see that the local Historical Soc. is having a dinner there one evening. It is also noted that the Sec. & Councilor Santos are one & the same. So what is the lending policy? Rental venues command prime rates. This center offers parking and new kitchen with a large open area. Why not open its doors with a simple secure passkey for local meetings? There are few places to do so with even Town Hall often holding meetings back-to-back.

Newport and Portsmouth also support their centers not just through the towns, but non-profit foundations. This opens up other funding possibilities besides the State. It also makes the centers more responsible not only for funding, but for management and offering what members ($10 fee) want. Both towns operate their libraries under this system (another possibility for Middletown).

Fewer government regs and expense with more control by users sounds like a win-win situation to me. Senior centers then become not part of town government, but do receive some bottom-line funding from them; quasi-town entities, if you will. It certainly makes for more simplified town budgets in this regard. More services, fewer tax dollars. It's a small island after all.

Formalizing island-wide senior centers -in actuality they are now anyway since any senior may join any group, sounds like a winner to me. It's at least worth some thoughtful consideration.
Post a Comment