By Rob Glidden Staff Writer
The Town Council made a permanent change to how the Calendar House senior center will be managed after a test period yielded mostly positive feedback from members.
Last year, the council’s ordinance subcommittee made a proposal to give the Town Manager more direct authority over the senior center. In the past, Calendar House director Bob Verderame answered to the nine appointed members of the Senior Citizens Commission. The change to the ordinance would maintain the commission but change their role to an advisory group.
A previous public hearing on the issue in June 2012 was met with a divided response, so the council opted to try the new format out for one year and then re-examine the matter.
Members of the Calendar House Members Association, which has supported the idea from the start, said the test run had opened up new possibilities for the facility.
“This change has given the Senior Center a new vitality,” said Peter Freeman, president of the association.
He added that the new arrangement would be crucial for the organization’s future plans for Calendar House, including a new fitness center.
“The change made last year should be made permanent,” said C. Mark White, a member of the commission. “It is working.”
While most of the comments were in favor of the new structure, former commissioner Sandra Micalizzi said she was concerned about the long-term results.
“The senior population in this town is exploding,” she said. “We need to increase our services and programming. I think the membership should have more power than just an advisory role.”
Former commissioner Lynn Maschi made similar comments.
“I have concerns with this change,” she said. “I feel we are taking power away from what the commission is supposed to do. It’s a step backwards.”
The council voted unanimously to maintain the new system, which councilors have said previously is in keeping with their vision for a more efficient government.
“We knew this would be controversial but you really showed us that you could take this and run with it,” said Town Councilor Cheryl Lounsbury, who chairs the ordinance committee. “I’m pleased to see the empowerment it has given you.”