Seniors Lose Senior Center in Little Egg Harbor

Feb 20, 2019

In 1996, Little Egg Harbor Township used public Community Development Block Grant funds to build a senior center off Radio Road. This past year, a leak developed in the roof, and the building was closed for months until the township found the funds to repair it. During this time, the organizations that used the center had to scramble to find other places to hold their meetings. Finally in December, the roof was repaired, but the organizations were not told they could come back – quite the opposite.

During the Feb. 14 municipal meeting, Lynne Haley expressed she was upset that the garden club and the Laurel Auxiliary were told they couldn’t meet there anymore. “We were told to go to the community center, but we like the senior center; it’s much nicer,” she told the mayor and committee.

Mayor Barbara Jo Crea said the idea was to put “community-minded groups” in the much larger community center. “The senior center does not have to be used exclusively for seniors,” she said.

Senior advocate Art Mooney said he realized the senior center is small, as it was built before all the senior residential housing complexes were built and before the “seniors invaded,” but “The seniors feel they are being bounced all over the place. It’s something we should look at.”

Township resident Jean Rhodes said the building was built for seniors and should remain their home. “I belong to three organizations that utilize that building, and now they have been pushed out of their (home).”

Crea said the building no longer has to be used for seniors, and she was looking to put some outreach programs in the building.

“Why should the ones using it be forced out?” asked Rhodes.“And it was never brought up to the organizations that use it; we were never consulted.”

“I had a different vision for that building, not my viewpoint entirely,” said Crea. “I thought it would be an opportunity to consolidate community groups in the community center.”

Business Administrator Matt Spadaccini said both the community center and the senior center have full calendars. “We were looking to have state, county and federal government programs present programs to the public on health care and veterans affairs, anything to help the community. Use the (smaller) building for community outreach.”

Spadaccini said he had spoken to the liaisons to the senior groups.

“I feel it’s very unfair to the seniors to all of a sudden just uproot them,” said Rhodes. “A lot of seniors don’t like change, and it was all done word of mouth. We had no chance to speak about it.”

“Anyone of us is available,” said Crea.

“I just think it wasn’t put to the seniors – it was already a done deal,” said Rhodes.

“I work very hard on the senior advisory group,” said Crea. “Let’s try and work this out. Your opinion is still welcome.”

Crea said she would meet with the disgruntled seniors, but the date and time have to be worked out.

Crea is also available to speak with community members at the Little Egg Harbor branch of the Ocean County Library on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m.

— Pat Johnson

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