"I have no intention of moving forward on another site,” said Mayor Arthur Vigeant after being asked if he would look for other locations. "If you don't want a senior center say no. Otherwise, vote yes and move this along."
The mayor made that statement in response to Councilor Jeseph Delano, who chairs the commitee, calling for a re-examination of sites for the senior center other than Ward Park.
“I very much think we need to do one last search for properties," Delano told the committee and other city councilors as he cited parking issues and the possibilities of other sites that did not come up during a previous search. “I am sure each of us has a spot or two in mind."
Councilor and Committee Member Donald Landers cited the year delay and added cost that an additional search would incur. Purchasing another site would require at least $1 million plus hundreds of thousands more in preparation, he said, all while taking away taxable property and still leaving millions in improvements needed at Ward Park.
“After all these talk we better pump a million and a half dollars into Ward Park," said Landers. “We can’t go through with this and not do any changes to Ward Park."
Other councilors argued that while there may never be a perfect site, Ward Park makes a lot of sense.
“This is the only one that gives you direct, on-site access to a park," said Councilor Robert Seymore. “That doesn’t exist anywhere else.”The mayor stated that if the proposal for the Ward Park site was not approved he would not look for a new site for a senior center.
“To hide behind the location I think is wrong," said Vigeant. "We need to move forward. We need to move forward with the senior center project and we need to move forward with the Ward Park project.”
Pope suggested that the committee vote through the $6.5 million bond for the senior center and $3 million for Ward Park improvements without a recommendation so that the entire council could discuss the issue. Those votes passed the committee unanimously.