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Seniors' group presses for full-time center director

Updated 3:09 pm, Thursday, December 6, 2012
  • A new report by the Top Ten Committee of the Fairfield Senior Center recommends a full-time director be hired for the center. Photo: File Photo / Fairfield Citizen
    A new report by the Top Ten Committee of the Fairfield Senior Center recommends a full-time director be hired for the center. Photo: File Photo

 

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You wouldn't hire a firefighter to run the police department, Senior Center Association President Richard DeAngelis told the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday.

So why, DeAngelis asked, should the town hire a general "human services" director to run the senior center. A senior center these days, DeAngelis said, needs a manager with special training.

DeAngelis was a member of a group that came to be known as the "Top Ten Committee," a group that looked at area senior centers and compiled a report on what is most needed to upgrade the Fairfield Senior Center on Mona Terrace.

When the center opened, it had its own, full-time director. That changed, however, and the duties were given to town Human Services Director Claire Grace, who plans to retire at the end of the year.

"Claire Grace has done an absolutely outstanding job running the Fairfield Senior Center," said Ron Atwater, another committee member, and she has carried out the task with limited resources.

The committee's report, Atwater added, "is a plea for resources."

The group would like to see funding for a full-time director solely for the center in the budget for fiscal year 2013-14, as well as a feasibility study on the Mona Terrace building itself -- the former Oldfield School -- to determine if it would make more sense to renovate that building or start from scratch with a completely new building.

Atwater said the building is certainly large enough, and does provide a good deal of flexibility.

Support for the Top Ten Committee report's recommendations has come from members of the Human Services Commission.

But First Selectman Michael Tetreau said he thinks the committee should also meet with the Representative Town Meeting's Senior Tax Relief Committee before deciding on its priorities. That committee is recommending an expansion of elderly tax relief that could cost the town as much as $2 million more than currently granted under those programs.

He said he would be interested to know if the commission's priority would be upgrading the senior center or expanded tax relief.

"I think your question is two separate items," said Nancy Legare, a member of both the Top Ten Committee and the Human Services Commission. She said the charge of the committee was to simply look at the senior center needs, not weigh it against seniors' tax relief.

greilly@ctpost.com, 203-502-9706; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost