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Letter to the editor

Seniors, use it or lose it

October 12, 2011 - After reading last week's Orion Review, we certainly know what Mr. Kalmar's agenda is - "not a senior center".  To remind everyone, what a majority of voters said was NO to an increase in taxes to pay for a new, tri-community, jointly-owned senior center.

The funds to build the new Orion Center came from monies paid to Orion Township by Waste Management for having the landfill expanded (in 1991) and operated in our community, as well as monies from cable TV customers that had been earmarked for a new ONTV studio.  The Township's general fund helps operate the current senior center, as well as CDBG grant dollars.  Modest membership fees (less than $.50 per week for residents and less than $1.00 per week for non-residents) will also help run the new Orion Center so that current "free" programming can continue at no additional cost to participants.

From the beginning, it was understood that the new facility would be a senior center community center.  It will house the Senior Center staff as well as the Parks & Recreation Department staff, who now both serve under one department head at the Township, a cost-saving measure of the current administration.  And it's located in the center of the Township where every resident has equal access.  Yes, it might have been nice if the Township Board had held a special meeting or public hearing to get everyone's input before they began the project, but what's done is done. 

Seniors at the current senior center were invited to offer comments and suggestions, including regarding the modest membership fees (by the way, there was a membership fee when the Township first took over complete control of the current facility in 2002) and they have been kept informed of the progress of the project.

The Senior Center Advisory Council has discussed and made recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding many items related to the building.

The plan is that the current senior center activities will continue at the Orion Center, including the branch public library during the day, Monday through Friday, and two evenings per week (Mondays and Thursdays) that it currently is open.  Senior use of the new facility may be expanded in the future depending on interest.  Other groups will be allowed use of the building when areas are not in use by the seniors.  The Senior Center Director has mentioned the possibility of inter-generational programming, as well.  And everyone knows that the community is always in need of meeting space for various groups.

Orion Center is being built for the community.  It's my opinion that if the seniors use it, a major use of the facility will be for seniors.  And there are more members of the community joining the 55+ age group every day. 

So seniors, use it or lose it!

Jill D. Bastian

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