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Senior Center Debate Continues

Garden City seniors often flock to the Senior Center on Golf Club Lane to beat the heat. On Thursday, they found another way to escape the sweltering temperatures - at Village Hall.

The board of trustees held their monthly meeting there, and the public participation portion featured many seniors voicing their opinion on the center’s future.

Many were under the impression that a renovation would be underway by now, but the board is continuing to investigate all their options. This includes renovation, but also a possible move to the Garden City Casino on Cathedral Lane.

Critics of a possible renovation have argued that it would be too cost prohibitive to renovate the existing center. Those on the other side of the debate claim that the center is still the best option, but that work needs to be done on it. They believe sharing space at the casino does not best serve the needs of the growing Garden City senior community.

Also, casino members are concerned that their programs would be jeopardized if they are forced to share space with those of the senior center. Board members assured folks that all scheduled programs at the casino can go on as scheduled, and that they are not looking to displace anyone.

At times, frustration boiled over at the meeting.

“To me this all sounds like one big delay after another delay,” said resident Grace Kelly. “I don’t understand why we just can’t [renovate] Golf Club Lane.”

Ellen Moynahan also expressed frustration, hinting that the village sees no economic value in its seniors. Trustee Richard Silver says that’s simply not true.

“There is no disagreement among the people sitting up here that our seniors in the village deserve a first class facility,” Silver said. “What we’re in the process of studying is how we best do that.”

Silver says the casino is an underutilized facility that could meet the pressing needs of seniors without the interruption a massive renovation of the existing center would require.

George Salem has been active in pushing for a renovation, and says his studies show that the job would cost the average household less than $10 a year in taxes.

Salem was joined by other seniors who say the casino cannot adequately meet their needs; that there is not enough parking and the handicapped accessible ramp is in the rear of the building.

Casino members say they have invested over $300,000 in the last few years on renovations of their own, and feel a ‘mixed use’ set up would not work.

In terms of delays, the board stressed that working on the budget, along with the fallout from Hurricane Sandy has caused the process to move a bit slower than anticipated. They say they hope to have some more answers soon.

In other business discussed at the meeting:

- Silver said the final 2013-14 budget made significant cuts to overtime budgets across the various operating areas of the village. He specifically cited the police and fire departments for doing a good job of managing their large overtime budgets.

- Public works director Robert Mangan says his department is meeting all the water needs of the community, especially important during this latest heat wave.

- Along those lines, Department of Recreation head Kevin Ocker says pool membership is up, and also says an improved drainage system at the Grove Street park tennis court should be completed shortly.

- Police Commissioner Ken Jackson says the heat wave has caused some issues with traffic lights, and that residents should treat lights that are out as four-way stop signs. He also says his department is continuing to crack down on aggressive drivers.

- The installation of a new PA system in the board room at Village Hall has been commissioned from Adwar Video of Farmingdale, to improve the overall audio quality at board meetings.

The next board of trustees meeting will be at 8 p.m. on Aug. 22 at Village Hall.