Mayor Harrington allocated funds to renovate the current center, but it was never finished and he was voted out of office, lack of follow-through on the center being the probable cause. Seniors do vote, as you know. At that time, I was not a senior. ... I am now.
The next mayor, Stan Usovicz, put up new money to again search out a new center site. I was appointed to a steering committee to look into sites for this proposed new senior center. Paul Lanzikos was on this committee, along with a number of others. Some funds were brought in, I believe $250,000, and once again nothing came of this. Many meetings, much time and a great deal of manpower were expended. The funds were not really accounted for in my opinion. The most we got was a sign in the back of the site, which was approved. The sign read “Future Home of the New Salem Senior Center” on Szetela Lane. It never happened, and another mayor was voted out. Seniors do vote.
Move on to St. Joseph’s site. ... Shot down, another waste of time and effort.
Another committee was organized and came up with another site, Boston Street. This one got further along than all the rest. Funds were allocated for a designer to help design the space in the new center. Joan Lovely, Bill Woolley, Doug Bollen, COA board members and those of us sitting on the design committee traveled in the COA van from site to site to evaluate and get ideas to make the new center a welcoming, efficient and forward-looking location for not only our elders but for all Salem residents. The money allocated by the council hired a decorator to help with the design plan of an already approved site, which is the current site coming before you for a vote. We worked on selecting colors, furniture, wall decor, flooring, lighting, etc. We talked about getting local artists to display their pictures. We talked of having historical memorabilia displays. We discussed a state-of-the-art computer center, exercise center, etc. We attended planning committee meetings, met with the builders, met with abutters to discuss and design the parking and landscape. We had public forums open to all to discuss the plans and enlist ideas. Once again, time, expertise and manpower were expended by employees, elected officials, volunteers and involved citizens. We were ready, set and determined to raise capital to help bring in money so this could at last become a senior/community life center for our entire community. It would stand on the corner as a welcome into Salem from Peabody and serve as a beautiful entrance into our city in an area that has long been abandoned.