Saturday, September 26, 2020

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Clinton Senior Center Proposal Returns to Town Hall

A move to consider a Clinton senior center, which launched in 2018 and gained momentum in 2019, hasn’t been extinguished by the coronavirus pandemic. At its Wednesday, Aug. 5 meeting, the Clinton Town Council is set to consider appointing a task force to study the feasibility of creating a senior center in Clinton.

At the July 15 Town Council meeting, Chair Chris Aniskovich said at the next meeting the council would discuss appointing a committee with a focus on looking at what bringing a senior center to Clinton would entail. The exact charge and members of that committee are expected to be determined at the Aug 5. meeting.

Clinton’s lack of a senior center has been a source of frustration and exasperation for some residents. In late 2018, the Board of Selectmen formed a task force to study the needs and wants of the senior population in town. However, some members of that task force became angry with what they felt was lack of serious commitment from taskforce toward developing a senior center. In a show of their seriousness, a group of about a dozen people attended a BOS meeting in June 2019 to make the case to the board on the need for a senior center.

The group had a solution in mind: Using the Town Hall Annex, located next to the Town Hall, as a senior center. When the Town Hall Annex was renovated more than six years ago, there was talk about using the space for senior residents, however that never materialized.

The building currently houses the town’s Social Services and Information Technology departments. Those in favor of the center argued that a conversion to a senior center could be done easily, while others believe the group is overly optimistic when it comes to how quickly the transition can be made. Significant costs that would be needed for maintenance and personnel, as well as finding a new home for the Social Services Department, were cited as reasons why the move wouldn’t be simple.

Beside the annex, some have inquired about using the empty Abraham Pierson School for a senior center, but there are no concrete plans for the future of the building at this time. In spring 2019, the town discovered that the deed for the sale of the building from The Morgan Trust to the Town of Clinton in 1953 states that the premises must always be used for the education interests of the residents. The town has been in contact with the Office of the State’s Attorney General about possibly changing that provision. It’s likely that process will need to be finished before a future use for the school is determined.

No group has come out in opposition of a senior center, but some individuals have said they view it as a complicated long-term project as opposed to a pressing issue the town could solve easily.

Speaking at a March 18 council meeting, Aniskovich said that building a senior center would be a three- to five-year project and that there is work to be done in the meantime to benefit seniors.

“We need to step back from that talk and go after what they really need and what they really want right now,” Aniskovich said in March.

As an example, Aniskovich said the town should find out if seniors are leaving Clinton for programs in other towns because the town isn’t providing enough resources for them, or if there are other reasons. Those in favor of the senior center have said that they don’t want to see the issue kicked down the road continuously.

The Town Council meeting will be held virtually and a link to the meeting will be available on the agenda for the meeting on town’s website clintonct.org.


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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