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Monday, August 4, 2014

Senior center board deserves a chance

Telegraph Editorial

It wasn’t on a scale with the recent Market Basket demonstrations, but some members of the Nashua Senior Activity Center and their supporters staged a small protest last week against a rumored increase in the fees that members are charged to belong to the Temple Street facility.

Indivudual members currently pay $35 per year and joint memberships are $50, but there are reports that the fees could double. Demonstrators are urging members – there are about 2,200 of them – to attend the center’s annual meeting on Aug. 13. ...

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It wasn’t on a scale with the recent Market Basket demonstrations, but some members of the Nashua Senior Activity Center and their supporters staged a small protest last week against a rumored increase in the fees that members are charged to belong to the Temple Street facility.

Indivudual members currently pay $35 per year and joint memberships are $50, but there are reports that the fees could double. Demonstrators are urging members – there are about 2,200 of them – to attend the center’s annual meeting on Aug. 13.

An apparent rift between the center’s board of directors and its staff and membership has claimed its top executive, Jeanne Marcoux, who abruptly resigned last month, a day after the board’s last meeting. She had been the director since 2011, a position that entails a lot of fundraising.

Some members would like to see the city do more to support center operations and relieve the financial pressure on the facility.

“Hudson supports their center, and so do Pelham, Salem, Manchester,” former director Patricia Francis wrote in a letter to The Telegraph published last week. “And many other (cities and towns) do. Nashua does not. What can the problem be?”

In fairness, the city does a fair amount already. Nashua taxpayers are paying a little less than $200,000 a year on the 20-year bond that built the facility, and the senior center uses the building rent-free. The city also handles snow removal and trash pickup. In addition, the center’s budget – said to be in the neighborhood of $300,000 – has been augmented by a small amount of funding through the city budget for the last two years. It’s earmarked to receive $22,000 from the budget that aldermen approved last week.

The city could easily step in and and provide a safety net for the center, because it’s not a huge amount of money in the grand scheme of things.

But some senior center members – as well as Mayor Donnalee Lozeau – first want to give board members a chance to craft their own solutions to the chronic money crunch under which the center operates.

That’s a reasonable idea, especially insofar as it preserves the autonomy of the organization.

The board should rely heavily on input from its members, many of whom care deeply about the center.

Then, if a solution can’t be found and the shortfalls continue, additional city support may be an option to be explored down the road.