Sweden seniors state their case to keep center vibrant

By on July 28, 2014

Sweden Seniors made it clear to members of the town board Tuesday, July 22, that they do not want the Senior Center located at 133 State Street in the Village of Brockport to be closed or sold.

About 50 senior-age residents attended the regular town board meeting to voice their concerns over rumors that the town board might be considering closing and selling the senior center.

“There are rumors about the Town of Sweden considering changes at the Senior Center, one being that Lifetime Assistance or another agency is in the process of purchasing the building. Even the thought of such an action has many residents concerned,” said Lori Skoog, who lives in the town and said she will soon be turning 71 years old.

She noted that the Sweden Senior Center is nationally recognized and award winning and the town should not be considering downsizing or closing it. “If anything, we should be enhancing and promoting a 21st century program,” she said.

Skoog provided statistics showing households in Sweden with members 65  and older on the rise. She also provided figures showing usage of the Senior Center has also increased over the past few years.

She called for an open meeting between the town board and the Sweden Senior Association as soon as possible to answer questions and to discuss the future, “…. how we can work together to continue having the best senior center that it has always been,” Skoog said.

Josephine Matela, a former Brockport mayor, local business owner and president of the Greater Brockport Development Corporation (GBDC) said, “I cannot fathom that this facility is failing for any other reason other than the town refuses or is incapable of recognizing the value of the senior center.”

Matela said she hopes the town will keep the center open for the good of the entire community, “however, my recent experience with this board leads me to believe their mind is made up,” she said.

Hanny Heyen, who worked as director of the Sweden Senior Center from 1982- 1986, urged the town board to consider forming a community committee to study the viability of the center, investigate successful models, and even look into offering programs such as a senior travel club.

“I challenge you to get involved and invest more in seniors,” Heyen told town board members. “Give this senior center a chance (with) changes that reflect  modern-day needs and times.”

Heyen said she would be the first to volunteer for such a committee.

Following comments, Supervisor Rob Carges said he appreciated the feedback from residents. He indicated that the town board would be considering possible changes at the senior center and that, “we want to make sure we are all out in the open.”

The board did not take any action regarding the Sweden Senior Center at the July 22 meeting.

Earlier this summer, the Senior Center cut back its hours, closing at 1 p.m. on  weekdays instead of 4 p.m., following the retirement of the director.