Letter: Senior Center Costs

Carl Albano, chair of the Putnam County Legislature’s Physical Services Committee, wrote on Sept. 16 about the senior center proposed for the Butterfield development in Cold Spring: “We did consider some of the special features in the build-out, such as a fireplace and teaching kitchen, based on input of the parties that were making the $500,000 charitable donation [Roger and Elizabeth Ailes]. Now that the offer has been rescinded, we have scaled back the scope of work to fit into a more modest budget.”

Have the legislators actually re-scoped the Philipstown Senior Center to a more modest plan? The public has not been given any evidence to support Albano’s assertion — the only documents made available reflect a $1.3 million to $1.5 million budget and a 6,000 square-foot facility.

I have submitted a Freedom of Information Law request to the Legislature for “any revised budget and/or floor plans for the Philipstown senior center produced between July 2016 and the date this request is processed.” I have received no confirmation that it will be provided. I wrote Legislature Chair Ginny Nacerino with the same request; she has not bothered to respond. Nor has our representative, Barbara Scuccimarra, a member of the Physical Services Committee, made any attempt to provide this information.

The appearance is that the Legislature forged ahead with bonding about $800,000 for the project and signing a lease based on the Ailes-defined scope, budget and design for the Senior Center. Albano has provided no evidence to the contrary, and there is no public record of meetings in which re-scoping was undertaken.

In this open letter, I ask the Legislature to provide the re-scoped plans and budget for public scrutiny, if they even exist. If they do not, they need to be prepared with the participation of local stakeholders (including the programming staff who actually run our senior programs) and with the full transparency required by the  Open Meetings Law.

It is budget season for the county. Surely now — as the Legislature establishes spending targets for the coming year — the Physical Services Committee will trim back the senior center’s bloated and wasteful scope. Our seniors deserve an affordable facility that delivers the services they were promised.

Kathleen E. Foley, Cold Spring

One thought on “Letter: Senior Center Costs

  1. Having spent a few hours listening to the conversation at the Budget Meeting at the County Office Building last Friday evening, I can tell you that a majority of the legislators themselves have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. Or they know only too well what they’re doing.

    The renovation of the proposed Senior Center at Butterfield seems to have started with a budget of $1.5 million, which was created based on the cost to renovate the space at Tilly Foster Farm, according to Fred Penna, the Commissioner of Highway & Facilities. That earlier budget, which include a hibachi cooktop feature, among other items, is based on nothing specific, because there are no schematic drawings, only vague floor plans so minuscule that if you enlarged them they would be grossly pixilated, therefore unreadable.

    Never the less, Legislators Albano and Scuccimarra seemed curiously obsessed with the figure of $1.5 million. They don’t seem inclined to consider to a lower figure. They seem to be working back from a number and scrambling to create documents and plans to support the fiction. What the real numbers will actually be is still a mystery, but their process is alarming. There are no preliminary architectural drawings and specifications that might provide some answers. Not one at Friday’s meeting, except Dini LoBue, seems to have a problem with this situation and Chairwoman Nacerino doesn’t seem to be bothered by it either given her very tepid inquiries regarding the progress of the project.

    County coffers are not an ATM for these elected officials. Pouring money into dubious public works is not economic development.