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Thoughts on Charlie Baker and the Senior Center

December 21, 2010

This post has been edited since being originally published.

Just days after the Patrick administration announced that local aid will once again be cut in the upcoming fiscal year budget (while Patrick refuses to entertain actually leading the charge for meaningful cost-savings in other areas of the budget), Charlie Baker’s name is apparently being floated as a potential candidate for governor in another four years.

Among his other problems, Governor Patrick has waged a massive assault on municipalities during the last four years, and has already boldly indicated that he will continue this troubling record in his second term. Once he has thoroughly ravaged this state, laying off every teacher and cop he can get his hands on while raising taxes through the roof, Baker will be looking very fine indeed come 2014. I fully expect Baker to have learned from his 2010 embarrassing campaign and run a serious campaign focused on what is wrong with this state right now and why it needs to be fixed by true leadership.

Joan Wilder, a freelance reporter for The Boston Globe has reported a bombshell revelation in this week’s Sunday Globe South, writing that apparently the Friends of the Council on Aging, a separate organization from the Council on Aging itself, are not actually all that enthusiastic about the proposal to put a senior center on Washington Street.

Wilder wrote, “according to the [Friends of the Walpole Council on Aging’s] former president, Susan Maguire, a third downtown site [for a senior center] will be proposed [after two previous downtown sites had been rejected]. The Friends have not met on the Washington Street proposal, Maguire said she believes her group would not support or fund that site.”

If what Maguire said truly represents the view of the Friends, it would run directly contrary to the view of the Council. Back in September, the Council voted unanimously to accept the Washington street land. Is it possible that a rift is already forming between the Council and the Friends?

In any case, the senior center issue could prove to be very interesting in the coming months, as former selectman David Sullivan, who has been advocating for the senior center to be built on Washington Street, has already announced he will be running again for Selectman in June, and will likely make this a cornerstone of his campaign.

Once again, no one has bothered to consider the soon-to-be-old library on Common Street for a new senior center. The main floor alone is several times the size of the current senior center, and all the building needs is a good handicapped ramp (maybe built by a local Eagle scout) and a new elevator.

Selectmen have decided to explore a proposal to waste a building like this and turn it into senior housing. Ironically, new senior housing will mean that the town will have even more people flowing into our senior center everyday, thus causing even more of a need for a new senior center with little added tax revenue from these new senior citizens.

It is time that the Friends announce that they would like the old library on Common Street – it is very large, it is centrally located, and it doesn’t require millions to build. This could be their last chance to get a new building – there is simply no other space downtown anymore, and if the Friends do not want the Washington Street site the old library would be perfect.

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