Orchard Park’s population of people 65 years old and older is growing so much that they may need more activities, more help going places and more assistance from local government.
These were among the conclusions in a report delivered Wednesday by the Senior Services Task Force to the Town Board.
“This is an increase and a change in population that is not temporary,” said Hal Fabinsky, co-chairman of the task force. “This is going to be with us for the foreseeable future.”
To make the case that senior citizens deserve greater public support and an alternative to the well-used and crowded senior center, the report included a count of the people who sign in each day in comparison with other communities:
Orchard Park, with a 2010 census of 9,336 senior citizens, has an average of 75 to 100 people sign in each day to use the center at 70 Linwood Ave. While last year’s total of 20,822 “sign-ins” was close to East Aurora’s, the number reflects duplicate users.
Fabinsky said the group asked West Herr Ford for help, and the car dealership offered to share its technical expertise to help get a more accurate count of individual users.
Next month, the committee will report to the Town Board again with proposals for improving the quality of life for senior citizens, which would include finding a new center.
To help, seniors have already raised about $60,000, said Jacqueline Briggs, president of the Senior Center.
While the group’s research and presentation were well received by the board, some in the audience were skeptical.
“The seniors want a new clubhouse,” said David Schuster, a regular meeting attendee who spoke at the meeting after listening to the earlier presentation. “Where does this quest for more and more entertainment end?”
He reviewed activities and classes available at the library and through adult education and suggested it was not “government’s job” to offer an overabundance of options. “Government shouldn’t be competing with private enterprise,” he said.
Councilman Michael Sherry replied that the government had an obligation to listen and respond to citizen requests. “We’re there to do the will of the people,” he said.
Also at the meeting, the board approved forming a “Government Efficiencies Task Force” to look at town services and find ways to make them more cost efficient.
Sherry was appointed chairman and will recruit five to seven other members. Sherry is a former assistant police chief and current executive director of operations at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora. He said his career has been focused on improving systems and he looks forward to examining the municipality’s. “There’s always room for improvement,” he said.