The Putnam Examiner

County Allots More Funding for New Senior Center

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More money will almost certainly be poured into the Lahey Pavilion renovations in Cold Spring as Putnam County leaders hope to open the county’s new senior center around the fall time.

During a physical services committee meeting, deputy highway commissioner John Tully requested the county Legislature expend another $300,000 for the senior center project located at the Butterfield redevelopment on top of the more than $1 million put forth for the renovation. The funds would be transferred from the Capital Reserve Fund, according to a memo from Tully to lawmakers. The funding would cover the project’s shortfalls and kitchen equipment, furniture, and furnishing, according to the memo.

Because the money is coming from a reserve fund, Legislature Chairman Joe Castellano said it would have “zero fiscal impact.”

The current amount set aside for the project is about $1.2 million, but now the cost would be $1,356,000 if the legislature approves the extra money. When the county put the project out to bid the first time last year, the lowest bid came back at roughly $1.8 million, which was too high for the county to accept.

The county highway department has completed demolition and plumbing work and value engineering changes to

the HVAC system, Tully said. The county parks department also spent time doing work on the 6,000 square-foot space, Tully added.

The county is leasing the space from developer Paul Guillaro.

“We worked around the weather during the winter and it worked out well,” Tully said.

Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who represents the district where the center would go, said she was excited to move the project ahead and work with union members that are going to contribute to the completing the center.

“I know about 100 seniors that are going to be waiting to see this,” Scuccimarra said.

At times, Scuccimarra stops by the Butterfield campus and even puts a hard hat on to assess the progress that’s been made.

Legislator Carl Albano said projects can go over budget and he was willing to allot the additional funds from contingency to complete the project. No lawmaker spoke out against the additional funding.

The county is also hoping to get funds from state and federal grants. With the help of state Sen. Sue Serino and state Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, the county could get reimbursed $500,000 from the state dormitory authority. Scuccimarra met with staff from the office of Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, a Cold Spring resident, about attaining federal funding for the project last week. During an audit meeting Thursday, she said she met with two staffers and hopes they can help if possible.

“After all, this is his town,” Scuccimarra at the physical services meeting said of Maloney. “We’ve been fortunate to have money from Senator Serino and Assemblywoman Galef so I don’t see why the congressman can’t (contribute).”

The senior center at the Butterfield campus has been dogged with controversy dating back to more than a year ago when many residents questioned if it was worth pouring money into a space that the county would only lease, rather than own. Originally, the late Roger Ailes, a Garrison resident and former Fox News chairman, was going to donate $500,000 to the project in return for having his name affixed to the center. When revelations came out that he allegedly sexually harassed multiple women at Fox News, the legislature delayed approving the charitable agreement and Ailes pulled his donation.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell said she was confident the latest numbers to finish off the center are solid. Some of the items not originally in the center’s budget were the kitchen equipment and furnishings.

She called the future center a valuable asset that will serve many seniors in the coming years.

“It shouldn’t be about money, it should be about giving the seniors finally the senior center that they deserve and that’s always kept us motivated,” Odell said. “You’re going to put a price on the happiness and the well-being and the nutrition of our seniors?”

Once the bid is awarded and work gets underway, it would take about 180 days or less to renovate the space and open it to senior citizens in the community.

“This should, according to our estimate, should take care of the whole project,” finance commissioner Bill Carlin said at the audit meeting about the extra $300,000.

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