Chatham Moves Date of Senior Center Special Town Meeting


CHATHAM – In an effort to give more citizens a chance to participate, the Chatham Board of Selectmen have chosen a new date for a special town meeting that could pave the way for a new senior center.

The board voted earlier this month to move the date for the special town meeting to Saturday, January 4 at 1 p.m.

Holding the meeting on a weekend afternoon encourages working families to take part and helps seniors who may not want to drive at night.

The Chatham 365 Task Force recommended having town meetings on weekend days to encourage participation from younger residents.

The board of selectmen created the task force last fall in recognition of the lack of young families in Town and the need to sustain a year-round economy. The task force is exploring ways the town can encourage an age-diverse, self-sustaining community.

The special town meeting was originally scheduled for Monday, January 13 in the evening.

Selectman Corey Metters said the Saturday afternoon time frame worked better than the morning due to the time it will take to set up.

“I would rather have it at 1 p.m. Give them time to set up. Have some lunch and then buckle down for probably a three-hour meeting,” Metters said.

As a parent, he said there are more youth sports during the morning which makes it tougher for young families and grandparents who watch children play.

“Obviously, you can’t accommodate for everyone’s schedule,” Metter said. “You might be able to get a couple more people to attend if it is a little bit later. A little bit later start, 1 p.m., is more mechanically sound if you are going to attract a certain audience.”

Metters said he believes people who attend the special town meeting will be focused.

“I think most people who are going to attend have already made up their mind about how they are going to vote that day on some of these issues,” he said.

Selectman Peter Cocolis said the task force found that younger families preferred 2 or 3 p.m. because of sports, but that is was in the spring in fall when more children had youth sports.

Cocolis agreed that the 1 p.m. start time works better.

“I’d like to have lunch first,” Cocolis joked.

Selectman Dean Nicastro, who originally voted against a January special town meeting, didn’t have any issues with rescheduling it to a Saturday and said the 1 p.m. start time was also fine.

The warrant will include two articles. One seeking $750,000 from free cash to purchase land on Main Street in West Chatham, and another seeking $130,000 in free cash for design plans.

If the two articles pass by a majority vote at special town meeting, voters will then take up a funding article for construction of the new Council on Aging at annual town meeting in May, where a two-thirds majority vote will be required.

“If you like this project you should show up in January because if you lose that is the end of that project,” Nicastro said. “If you don’t like the project you can kill it January or you can kill it in May.”

Voters rejected a proposal of $6.6 million earlier this year to build the new senior center on Middle Road. Many residents said the location was too remote. That proposal would have constructed the center on town-owned property.

Cost estimates for the center at the new location are around $8 million.

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