DANVERS — A group of residents are pushing to rename the Senior Center on Stone Street after the town's longest-serving town manager: Wayne Marquis.
Resident Andrea Daley said she and several others formed a committee to honor Marquis, and rename the building the "Wayne P. Marquis Community Center."
Daley brought the idea to selectmen Tuesday night. Marquis served 35 years as town manager in his hometown, and worked for a total of 40 years in Town Hall before he retired in October 2014.
Marquis continues to serve Danvers as chairperson of the town's Retirement Board and as vice chairperson of the regional Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School District’s School Committee, which oversees Essex Tech in Danvers.
While the Board of Selectmen has the authority to rename town buildings, Selectman Dan Bennett — the current chairman — said the board decided to instead direct town staff to draft a warrant article for the Feb. 10 Special Town Meeting, so that Town Meeting members have a chance to weigh in on Marquis' long career.
Bennett said Senior and Social Services Director Pam Parkinson endorsed the idea as well.
"It's just moving forward," Bennett said.
"I thought it was a nice touch," said Town Manager Steve Bartha, Marquis' successor.
Daley said she wanted to name something in honor of Marquis five years ago, but was told it was too soon. She was behind the effort to install a plaque in the Town Hall foyer in Marquis' honor.
She revived the push this year and formed a citizens committee made up of: John Keohane, former recreation director Larry Crowley, former Selectman Bill Nicholson, Alan Hartnett, Town Archivist Dick Trask, Gail Eaton, Town Meeting members Bill Bradstreet, Janice Tipert and Joan George, People to People Food Pantry co-founder Barbara Remon, former Town Accountant Leonard Marshall, and Parkinson.
Daley said she called Marquis and asked about what he might like to see, giving him multiple options.
She said he liked the idea of renaming the senior center. Daley said she even researched the naming of the Peter A. Torigian Senior Center in Peabody, which is named after the late former Mayor Peter Torigian. Daley said most senior centers in the region are not named for anyone.
"If it weren't for (Marquis), we wouldn't have a senior center," Daley said.
"I think Wayne would be honored," Selectman Gardner Trask, who had a question about whether the renaming of the center as a "community center" might impact the center's accreditation as a senior center. He also wanted the effort to get consideration from Town Meeting.
Daley said the renaming should not have any impact on the senior center's accreditation.
"It is a very great honor," said Marquis, who was humbled and noted that his efforts over the years were a team effort. He was grateful to Daley and others for thinking of him.
"The fact that people were even talking about it, I'm appreciative of it," said Marquis, who was town manager when the present 2-acre site at 25 Stone St. was approved for a senior center more than 20 years ago. Town records show the building was constructed about 1999.
Prior to the senior center's construction on Stone Street, it had been located in a church adjacent to Town Hall and in a building across from Town Hall on Sylvan Street where the food pantry is presently located.
"It's a world of its own, the senior center," Marquis said. "It has become more of a community center over time."
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.