Assemblyman Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) and Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy hosted hundreds of Yorktown senior citizens at Murphy’s Restaurant for a Pancake Breakfast and Senior Center Forum. Ball and Murphy gathered the seniors and collected opinions to build a consensus on a town Senior Center.
“It will be a top priority for me to secure funding for a Yorktown Senior Center,” Ball said. “But the money has been secured before, and a lack of consensus on how to put that money to use resulted in a lack of action. We will not let that happen again. We need to agree on what we want, and turn that agreement into a mandate for this town.”
Ball added that he has found a partner in Terrence Murphy to help make his promise a reality.
“As we walked door to door, we came to understand what a hot issue the Senior Center is for this town,” Murphy said. “We are continuing to move forward with diligence and we need to do it the right way.”
Seniors are divided between renovating the Yorktown Cultural Center (YCC) to designate sections for Senior Events, or find funding and property to build a standalone Senior Center.
Yorktown Supervisor Susan Siegel, who said the “town board is doing all it can to provide additional services and facilities for seniors” reminded the seniors of the risk of not coming to consensus.
“We have three options,” Siegel said. “We can do nothing. We can borrow $10 Million to build a standalone senior center. Or, we can take current funding to renovate the current senior space. Yorktown has already lost earmarked funds because there was no consensus.”
Catherine Damato, who has advocated for a senior center for a number of years, challenged Siegel to let the voters decide on a standalone Senior Center via referendum.
“I’m 100% behind Greg Ball and Terrence Murphy,” Damato said. “I’d like to know if Susan Siegel is on board because the YCC is a dungeon. I don’t want to see the seniors disappointed again.”
Jennie Menton, a member of the Yorktown Senior Advisory Committee, supported Siegel’s renovation plan because the local economy is still recovering.
“We need a Senior Center desperately,” Menton said. “But now is not the time to build a standalone Senior Center. We already have a beautiful building and we have the Sullivan Plan that will improve living for our seniors. We need funding for that.”
Many seniors disagreed with Menton’s characterization of the YCC, and some even called the building a “fire trap.”
“The YCC is in no way, shape, or form conducive for senior events. Plus, it’s hazardous,” Dennis Tate said. “I am supportive of a standalone Senior Center, nothing less.” Tate suggests finding a private builder who will lease the Senior Center to the town.
“Towns with 8,000 residents have Senior Centers that look like the Taj Mahal,” Ball said. “Yorktown has 40,000 residents. It absolutely has to have a senior center.”
“Given the sacrifices seniors made for this country,” Bob Phelan said, “it’s time for Yorktown to make a specific improvement that benefits them.”
On Friday, April 16, at 1:00PM, the Senior Advisory Committee will host an open forum at the YCC to continue the debate.