Acra Senior Center

The Acra Senior Center. Contributed photo

CAIRO — Town officials authorized a new committee to be formed Monday with the goal of finding another location for a senior center.

Greene County partners with several towns to rent these facilities and provide senior citizens with a place to share meals and socialize.

The Acra Community Center on Old Route 23, which has served as a senior center since the 1980s, has seen better days, Dorothy True of the Department of Human Services told the town board.

A recent state inspection revealed mold, exposed wires and mice in the building, True said.

Department of Human Services Executive Director Terry McGee Ward said that although the town of Cairo owns the building, the county provided much of the kitchen equipment and appliances.

The deterioration of the building has made it no longer cost-effective to keep making repairs, True said.

Town board members agreed to the formation of a committee. Councilwoman Mary Jo Cords will serve on the committee as a liaison to the town board.

Legislator William Lawrence, R-Cairo, approved of the board’s decision, calling it a “good idea.”

“That building’s got its problems,” Lawrence said. “The insulation is bad. There’s wetlands in the back. Not much parking.”

Giving seniors a place to come together for meals, to socialize and build a sense of camaraderie is an important aspect of their lives, Lawrence said.

Population demographics in Greene and Columbia counties skew statistically older than other areas, according to Pattern for Progress’ “Out of Alignment,” a yearlong study funded by Central Hudson.

In Columbia and Greene, more than 40 percent of the population will be age 55 and older by 2030. By 2030 almost 25% of Columbia County residents will be age 70 or older, according to the study.

A location that had been discussed in the past for the senior center is the former Cedar Terrace on Main Street, Lawrence said.

“It’s close to town, has more parking and is a better facility overall,” he said. Town Supervisor John Coyne agreed that he would like to see the center closer to town.

“I would love to see the center move toward Main Street Cairo because I think it’s important to be centrally located,” he said.

Senior residents need a new facility, Coyne said.

“The life expectancy of that building has seen its time,” Coyne said, adding that it was built in the early 1970s. “I appreciate Ms. True coming forward and putting together a steering committee. We need to get something new for these folks.”

Coyne was unsure whether a new building will be found or whether a building will be constructed on property that is located by the search.

“Anything they bring back to the board, we would need to look at as a group,” he said.

Coyne asked that the committee keep the board informed of its progress and that the county be a partner in the project. The county uses the Acra location for its Meals on Wheels program, Coyne said.

“[The senior center] is just as important as everything else in town,” he said.

The county also has senior centers in Catskill, Athens, Coxsackie and Jewett.

Catskill, Athens, Acra and Jewett are cooking sites, meaning meals are prepared on-site, Ward said in March 2019.

The county pays $1,200 monthly for Catskill, $1,266 for Jewett and $1,000 for Coxsackie senior centers.

Rent for Acra and Athens senior centers in 2019 was $1,000.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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