CITY OF NEW HAVEN SEEKS TO CLARIFY DISCREPANCIES AND MISUNDERSTANDINGS AROUND SENIOR CENTER CLOSINGS
(3/17/2009) NEW HAVEN—The City of New Haven announced today that a number of media accounts and public discussions by local elected officials surrounding the closing of three senior centers have included numerous inaccuracies. The City seeks to demystify the process that led to the closings and clarify what services seniors can expect throughout the City for the remainder of this fiscal year and in FY 2009-2010.
The three senior centers that will close: Bella Vista, Westville and West River were selected for a combination of reasons including low attendance, high costs and proximity to other facilities. First, Bella Vista is located in a living complex that, under the supervision of Carabetta Management, already provides access to a number of programs and services within their community. This was by far the City’s smallest senior center where residents have the benefit of additional programs and services offered by other providers. Residents at Bella Vista that wish to be connected to a City center are encouraged to attend the Atwater Center as this center has the capacity to absorb and is conveniently only 1.3 miles away.
While the 853 square-foot space used for the senior center at Bella Vista will no longer be occupied the Elderly Services Department, the City will continue to provide:
- A ceramics instructor two days per week for the remainder of the fiscal year and throughout FY 09-10
- A yoga instructor through the end of the month (but will continue to be funded by Carabetta through June 30, 2009)
- Transportation through the Greater New Haven Transit District for residents to attend Atwater or East Shore senior centers
- Information to Bella Vista residents of any and all events conducted by the Department of Elderly Services
- Elderly Nutrition Lunch Program
Westville experienced the lowest attendance rate of all senior centers in the City and was the second most expensive to operate with a cost of more than $43,500 annually. Westville seniors can continue to receive services and participate in activities at the Dixwell senior center, conveniently located only 1.8 miles away.
The West River senior center was the second least attended facility of its kind in the City and required the City to pay costs associated with access that exceeded those of other centers including: electricity, gas, water, pest control, etc… The Dixwell center can absorb West River attendees and is less than a mile away.
The City reaffirms that the closure of these centers is the unfortunate consequence of having to make very difficult decisions in the midst of a global financial crisis. When all but three labor unions chose not to agree to concessions and opted not to give up any portion of the 3-4% salary increases they will enjoy in the new fiscal year, those labor leaders made the decision for the City to make cuts in elderly services, schools and other departments that directly serve residents.
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