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Local News

February 8, 2013

Senior center back on agenda in Salem

Mayor's new finance proposal could cause City Council showdown

(Continued)

“The question isn’t where anybody thinks it should go. The question in front of us is financing,” said McCarthy. “I’m still supportive of the location if the funding works; I just need to look at it (the financing proposal).”

The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday at City Hall.

Ryan, the council president, said the board will probably vote to send the financing proposal to committee, possibly the subcommittee on administration and finance, to vet the proposal before it comes back to the full council for a vote.

Longtime Councilor Joseph O’Keefe said the board has already discussed the center’s location, and shouldn’t revisit the debate.

“We spent enough time researching what’s the best place, and in my mind this is the best place,” said O’Keefe. “I feel we should move on with this project. It’s been talked about so long. ... Why open up the whole discussion (again)?”

Councilor Josh Turiel also said he’s in favor of giving the project the green light.

“What we have right now is the best compromise we can get to, and also the best chance to get it built at a reasonable price,” said Turiel. “... I would have supported doing it as part of St. Joseph’s (church redevelopment, which was considered as a location), but now that it’s all put together (for Bridge and Boston streets), I will support it.”

Turiel said there is “a vocal contingent” that wants the senior center in a different location, but “we already have (council) consensus on this site. It makes sense.”

The road to a new senior center in Salem has been long and controversial. Multiple locations have been considered over the tenure of several mayors.

In 2009, a committee headed by then-councilors Joan Lovely and Matt Veno vetted several locations for a community life center. After seeking input from across the city, the committee chose three sites to recommend to the mayor.

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