MOUNT CARMEL — Mayor Pat Stilwell removed the proposed relocation of the Senior Center from the Feb. 25 Board of Mayor and Aldermen agenda after receiving negative feedback about the move from the center’s director.
In a potential reversal of fortunes, rather than discussing a senior center relocation during the Feb. 25 BMA meeting, Alderman John Gibson suggested paying the senior center its municipal contribution for the months it has been closed.
The Senior Center’s contract with the city states it must be open to receive its $1,000 monthly contribution. The center also receives use of the second floor of City Hall for $1 per month, all utilities included.
The city contribution has been withheld since last March, when the Senior Center shut down due to COVID-19. The center only reopened for normal activities last month, although it has been providing meals to seniors throughout the pandemic.
Gibson visited the senior center prior to the Feb. 25 BMA meeting to discuss the proposed relocation.
“I appreciate your hospitality, and it was nice to meet you all and talk to you all, and hear the reasons why you might not want to move,” Gibson told Senior Center members in attendance during the Feb. 25 BMA meeting. “Now that we’ve moved on from that I think there’s an opportunity to re-examine how COVID affected you. The way our contract was worded, there was never anything like that in mind. We already have those funds budgeted.”
Gibson said he’d like to see the issue of reimbursing the senior center the funds it didn’t receive when it was closed for the pandemic placed on the agenda for either the March 11 workshop or a future workshop.
During the Feb. 11 BMA workshop, Stilwell proposed moving the Senior Center out of its current location on the second floor of City Hall and into the house at 210 Maple St., which the city purchased in 2017 for a possible expansion of the adjacent City Park.
Stilwell suggested on Feb. 11 that the space currently occupied by the Senior Center could be used as a community center and rented by the public for special events.
Based on the Feb. 11 workshop discussion, the proposed relocation was to be placed on the Feb. 25 agenda.
“I pulled it because they didn’t want to go,” Stilwell told the Times News on Wednesday. “(Former mayor) Chris Jones last year said that would be a good place for them and we own the house. I knew Chris had a good relationship with them. So when Sue told me they didn’t want to go, I said OK. So I told some of the board just to drop it.”
Senior Center director Sue Jarrett told the Times News last month that the house at 210 Maple St. isn’t ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible, doesn’t have adequate parking or handicapped parking, and she doubted if the house was equipped to function as a senior center.