There seem to be a few issues that are causing problems. The thirty-five or so seniors who use the senior center currently operating at the Youth Center at Third and Union streets feel that their interests and desires haven't been factored into Henry's planning. Henry held two well-attended community meetings, on January 29 and February 3--one held in the morning, one held in the early evening--to which the seniors currently using the program, along with everyone else, were invited. According to Henry, only six of them attended.
There is some reason for their discontent. Of the four programs now available for seniors at the Youth Center--aerobics, yoga, bingo, and open recreation (playing cards and watching TV)--all but open recreation seem to be in some kind of jeopardy.
Since very little money has been budgeted for senior programming, Henry is looking for ways to do more with less. Speaking of the current aerobics and yoga programs, she was quoted in the Register-Star as saying, "'I'll ask people to pay the instructors directly, at vastly reduced rates, rather than taking from city funds." She indicated the fee would be about $5 a class. The instructors are currently paid by the City of Hudson and collect $2 from each participant at every class. That money is turned over to the City.
That statement inspired a letter to the editor that appeared in yesterday's Register-Star, protesting Henry's proposal that participants pay instructors directly: "I disagree with the idea of paying the instructor directly by attendees, just as I would disagree with such an arrangement at the high school or at CGCC or the library. The instructor who is educated and trained in her field needs, and appropriately should receive, a regular pay from her employer." The letter concluded:
At last night's Youth & Aging Committee meeting, Henry announced that the City would continue to pay the instructors of two exercise programs--aerobics and yoga--and proposed maintaining the existing $2 charge for "Charter Members of the new community center who are City of Hudson residents. Those Charter Members and others who live outside the City of Hudson will be asked to pay $5." That proposal was not received well either, with several of the Charter Members present protesting that $5 was too much.
Bingo is also in jeopardy. At the meeting, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton explained that the New York State Gaming Commission limits the number of "free games"--games conducted by entities that do not have a bingo license--to fifteen a year. With bingo being played by seniors at the Youth Center more than once a week, the City of Hudson has already exceeded the legal limit. "We cannot, as a City, sanction illegal gambling," said the mayor and spoke of the possibility of partnering with the American Legion to have them conduct bingo games at the senior center.
The new senior center itself was also a cause for dissatisfaction. It was revealed that Henry has had the key to the space since the middle of February, but the new senior center has not yet opened because there is "insufficient money to get it up and running." There seem to be two things that are particularly problematic: a community room full of tables that are too heavy and awkward to move, making it impossible to use the space for exercise classes; and a utility closet that needs to be fitted out with shelves for the storage of equipment.
The kitchen seems also to have its shortcomings. Gloria Giles, one of the senior center regulars, asked the committee and the Youth Center staff why the "experts," referring to herself and her colleagues, had not been consulted "instead of accepting what you get." The truth is that no one from the City was consulted on the fitting out of the space although the City was required to provide $100,000 for that purpose.
|Photo: HudsonNY Magazine|
Leo Carlin, who at the January 29 idea-gathering session said he had been "around the block" with the senior center several times, commended the Galvan Foundation for creating "a remarkable piece of interior architecture." He talked of the space and the light but then said, "It's not a senior center. It's not warm, it's not friendly, it's not inviting."
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