Consultant Recommends New Senior Center in Chatham

COURTESY OF THE CHATHAM COUNCIL ON AGING

COURTESY OF THE CHATHAM COUNCIL ON AGING

CHATHAM – A new action plan has been presented to town officials in Chatham for the council on aging and the consensus is a new facility is needed.

Consultant Kathleen Schatzberg was before selectmen recently and recommended a new senior center.

“The facility is barely adequate at this point,” Schatzberg said. “With the increase in senior population over the coming years it will become more and more inadequate.”

A new senior center would be a big ticket item for the town.

“There will be a need to look at fundraising and how to find the resources for that sort of thing,” she said.

Schatzberg recommends a single-floor facility, which would not require stairs or elevators. She said it would ideally include areas of privacy for staff who are meeting with clients.

She also endorses a feasibility study to see if other town facilities could be converted and to find out how to pay for construction.

Katzberg said there is also an issue with staffing and plans need to be made to increase staff in 5, 10 and 15 year increments to keep pace with elderly population increases.

“You should start now to plan how those increases are going to happen,” she said.

Transportation is another issues for seniors that needs to be addressed.

Schatzberg referenced a recent UMass study on the town’s aging population and said a large percentage of seniors are modifying their driving habits and aren’t driving at night, in bad weather and some even eliminating left turns.

“The people who are making those kinds of modifications understand that their driving ability is less sharp than it used to be and that makes a drive for public forms of transportation more urgent,” she said. “It’s a public safety issue.”

An idea has been floated to partner with the ride sharing service Uber like a partnership between the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority and the company for CapeFlyer riders.

“A specific Uber partnership for Chatham is something that would require a lot of due diligence work in the arena of liability and car insurance,” Schatzberg said. “Uber drivers need to think about those things, but it is work investigating.”

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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