Orchard Park Town Board members told senior citizens this week they support their quest for a new center.
But how that might come about is uncertain for now.
Senior citizens wore bright red shirts to the Town Board meeting Wednesday night, and eight of them asked board members to obtain the former Baker Road school from the Orchard Park Central School District. The district is moving its administrative and transportation offices to Southwestern Boulevard near Angle Road, and it plans to sell or lease the Baker Road building that now houses administrative offices.
“I do hear you, and I’ve heard you for the last three years I’ve been sitting here,” Supervisor Janis Colarusso said. “I’m right behind you.”
She said she couldn’t say anything more “because as you know this board makes decisions with three votes.”
The two councilman talked of finances and legalities.
Councilman Eugene Majchrzak said the town must find out what process would be used to sell the Baker Road school.
“I’m in full support of what your needs are. I can’t promise that we will be able to provide you, right from the start, some of the state of the art items you had mentioned,” he said.
“I’m supportive of anything that would meet the needs of the seniors,” Councilman David Kaczor said.
School Superintendent Matthew McGarrity Thursday repeated the district’s position that it cannot sell the building for $1. Voters approved the purchase and renovation for the new bus garage and administrative offices with the understanding the sale or lease of the Baker Road building would offset some of the cost, he said.
The School Board will be discussing a draft appraisal of the building during an executive session at Tuesday’s meeting, he said. No action will be taken, but the board also will be looking into what process to use to sell or lease the building.
“We’re going to look at all the options and pick the best option for us,” McGarrity said.
Kaczor told seniors finances have to be considered, and he thought it unlikely the district could give away the school. Also, a formal study would have to be done on the building, which would need some repairs and retrofitting, he said.
“I think this board is prepared at least to entertain it, to look at it, and get input from all parts of the community to see if it’s viable and if it would work,” Kaczor said.
Colarusso also suggested the district should give the building to senior citizens, who could give it to the town.
“We’re not sure they can give you the building, but dreams can come true and you remember that,” she said.
Jacqueline Briggs, president of the Orchard Park Senior Citizens Group, presented a petition signed by 348 people in favor of a new center to replace the cramped Linwood Avenue center.
Mary Ann Martin of Cole Road said she started attending the center when she was restricted in her physical activities.
“That actually saved my sanity,” she said.
But sometimes the bridge players have to play in the billiard room, and hope no one wants to play pool, and sometimes it’s difficult to hear the lectures because of a dance class in the room above it, she said.
Alfred Szymanski said the senior population is growing and baby boomers are retiring at a faster rate than in previous years. “I see our town at a crossroads,” he said.
He said the cost of a center will only increase in the future.
“I feel the Town Board should make a greater effort in handling this situation,” Szymanski said.