For the third time in 15 years, Seekonk voters will decide Monday whether to approve a tax measure to fund a new senior center. Two similar measures failed to pass.
The proposal calls for a temporary override of Proposition 2 1/2 (known as a debt exclusion) to allow a property tax hike to fund a $2.5 million center that would be built on a vacant property next to Town Hall on Peck Street. The tax would cost approximately $8 per $100,000 of a property's value and decrease each subsequent year, town officials say. The $2.5 million bond would be paid off in 20 years.
The tentative floor plan for the 9,200-square-foot building includes a multi-purpose room, lecture area, conference room, kitchen, computer room and other sections.
Dave Bowden, chair of the Senior Center Building Committee, told Attleboro-Seekonk Patch that more elaborate construction plans would be developed if the measure were approved. He said that the facility would be built for no more than $2.5 million.
"If we have to make the building slightly smaller to meet that number, that is what we'll do," Bowden said.
A nonprofit group called Friends of the Friends of the Senior Center would raise money for any additional costs to the facility such as furnishings.
A brochure supporting the measure states the current facility for seniors on Pleasant Street is a cramped building that is not suitable to host various programs, can only hold 48 people for events, lacks adequate parking and has a second floor that can only be accessed through stairs that many seniors cannot climb.
Opponents of the measure, including those who have posted comments on Attleboro-Seekonk Patch, say the proposal is too expensive. Board of Selectman Francis Cavaco has said this, according to the Sun Chronicle. The other four selectmen are in favor of the measure, the newspaper reported.
Bowden said the facility would be devoted to seniors, but could also be used as a general community center and meeting room for times when seniors are not using building. He noted that most senior programs do not take place at night.
The measure needs support of a simple majority of the voters to pass. If they approve the proposal, then it will go before the residents at the Town Meeting in June for a final decision on the bond. Two-thirds of the voters at the Town Meeting will need to approve the measure to finalize it. The Zoning Board of Appeals will vote on the final design.
If the measure gains approval Monday and at the Town Meeting as well as the ZBA, construction could begin later this year and the facility could be ready to host programs and events in 2013, Bowden said.