, Salem, MA

March 12, 2013

Letter: The time is right for senior center project

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

I wish to offer my strongest support to the plan for a new Salem senior center to be located at Boston and Bridge streets. There have been many issues of importance that have arisen for which I have had strong opinions. However, this is the first letter to the editor I have written since I was a senior at Salem High School many years ago. So many years ago that I will soon be eligible to enjoy the benefits of a new Salem senior center. This project stands alone as deserving of our support, but I also feel it presents an opportunity for Salem leaders to take a stand for something positive and forward-thinking.

I am grateful that in the decades of discussion about this project, no one has ever suggested that Salem senior residents should not have a first-class facility to serve their needs. Salem seniors built the schools and parks that all of us enjoy today. They paid their taxes, built this community, and it is our duty and responsibility to honor them.

I visit many Massachusetts public buildings and am pleasantly surprised to see the quality of other Massachusetts senior centers and feel that Salem can do as well as those communities. The current Broad Street location is in poor condition, and Salem seniors deserve better.

My civic involvement in Salem is decades long and does not mean my opinion has more value than others, but I hope this experience demonstrates a comprehensive perspective of public matters. My formal community involvement includes:

Salem Housing Authority municipal intern board member;

Vice president of the Memorial Park Association (now Irszyk Park);

Chairman of the Salem Personnel Board;

Chairman of the Salem Licensing Board;

Chief of staff to the mayor of Salem;

Chairman of the Salem Neighborhood Improvement Advisory Committee;

Member of the Salem Police Headquarters Building Committee;

Member of the Salem Municipal Golf Course Club House Building Committee.

The project will provide a safe and modern facility for the entire community. Amazingly, the private space component will generate tax revenue to fully fund the cost of the bond. The location is centrally located and accessible.

There are always ways to find faults with any project, and that is not challenging. The challenge is for Salem leaders to find opportunities to make things work and to make things happen. It’s easy to delay but always more rewarding to forge ahead with a good idea.

This project should not be delayed. Past delays have denied a generation of Salem seniors the benefits they have richly earned. Another delay will simply result in another generation of Salem seniors being denied what they deserve.

The project is right. The time is right. The time is now.

David J. Shea