Source: Sherman Publications

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Letter to the editor
Not a senior center

September 28, 2011

Dear Editor,

Each time I read an article about the proposed Orion Center I become agitated, incensed and frustrated!  There are some in the Township who insist on referring to the building on Joslyn Road as the Senior Center.  The community voted down a senior center several years ago in overwhelming numbers but there are still some who have concluded that the majority-vote was meaningless and thus we have articles such as the one that appeared today in a supplement of The Oakland Press, which focused mainly on a senior center. (New $3M senior center for Orion Twp.) 

Lisa Sokol is quoted as saying that "the center will also be available to the community and the dining room can be rented out for wedding receptions, baby showers, etc."  It should have read "the Orion Center is available for wedding receptions, baby showers, etc. and there will be a section set aside for seniors". 

The article mentioned that additional financing other than what was committed by the Eagle Valley landfill will come from the Township.  There was no mention of how maintenance, landscaping and other expenses will be paid for.  The community once again, with its unanimous vote to not build a senior center, wants no part of paying for this project!  Continuing to refer to the building as the Senior Center in my mind means that all incremental expenses should be shouldered by seniors who enroll in the center.  If you want to call it the Senior Center then have seniors provide the sole support!

In a recent issue of The Lake Orion Review (Orion Center Offers Plenty For Seniors, Community), Township Supervisor JoAnn Van Tassel said what most of us have been concluding for quite some time:  "some residents may feel the Orion Center is just for seniors, with an emphasis on programming to meet their needs, but this will change.  Over time, I think, you'll find plenty of things for everyone".  Duh – sounds like a senior center to me with the rest of the community accommodated some time down the road!  What does "over time" mean?   This is not what the community voted for!

Votes have consequences and yet somehow those involved in the Orion Center project tend to ignore the wish of the community and are moving forward to christen the building as a senior center.  As you know, I spearheaded a movement to vote down the senior center and if I have to revisit that initiative I will willingly do so again!

All of us look forward to having a place in the community where residents can congregate but the constant discussion of this being solely for seniors does a disservice to all who voted down the ballot proposal to construct such a structure.  The money from the Eagle Valley landfill was for all residents and not just seniors!  So, as we move forward, I think any press releases and interviews about the Orion Center should make that distinction.  How difficult can that be unless some of you have an alternate agenda!

Bill Kalmar