Monroeville seniors balk at possbile merger of center with parks, recreation department
Members of the Monroeville Senior Citizen Center are fighting a proposal that would bring parks and recreation programs into their building next year to save money.
The municipality's proposed budget for 2014 calls for relocating some parks and recreation activities to the center, built in 1980 on Gateway Campus Boulevard.
And that's not sitting well with the seniors who don't think they should have to share their space.
Many of them have paid taxes to the municipality for decades and have raised money to help maintain the center, said Jim Macaluso, president of the senior center council.
“And now they want to bring all the young kids over to run all over the building,” he said.
The center's council has voted against the merger. And a petition with 500 signatures of people opposed to the move has been sent to council.
But the final decision rests with the seven members of Monroeville Council.
Their $26.6 million tentative budget maintains services in 2014 without increasing property taxes. Council is scheduled to vote on a final budget Dec. 10.
The senior center has more than 3,000 members from Monroeville and Pitcairn. Members average 55,000 visits per year, according to borough records.
Under the proposal, programs for children in elementary or middle school age would be held after 4 p.m. — after the senior center closes, said municipal manager Lynette McKinney, who drafted the proposed budget.
“It will make the center a more multifaceted facility encompassing all ages in our community,” McKinney said.
The merger could eliminate rental fees for parks and recreation activities now being paid to Gateway School District or the Monroeville Sports Center, she said.
“Our plan is not to close the senior center or even restrict the seniors' access,” McKinney said.
The municipality pays the bulk of the senior center's budget — an average of about $423,000 annually from 2010 through 2012. Available programs include health services, free bus trips, yoga, quilting and Wii bowling.
Judith Diel of Monroeville said the senior citizens don't want to share their space. “We're just happy with the way it is,” she said.
Monroeville Mayor Greg Erosenko said senior citizens deserve a building of their own.
“When you break it down, we're getting our bang for our buck (at the senior center),” Erosenko said. “They earned the right to have their own senior center. Most of them have been in this community 50-plus years.”
But the financial stability of both departments would be strengthened by the merger, said Councilwoman Lois Drumheller, who serves as the council liaison to the senior center.
“Together it's a stronger union of services that can't be broken apart in future budgets,” Drumheller said.
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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