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A word from your town supervisor from the Sept. 5 edition of The Sun

HAMBURG — When John Farrell started working for the town in 1978, Hamburg did not have much of a senior services department. Over the years, Farrell, as senior services director, changed that and Hamburg slowly came to have one of the most comprehensive and expansive senior departments in the area.

With the foundation that Farrell laid, the town board felt there was an opportunity to continue to move the department forward and open up even more ways to grow, by merging the senior services with its recreation department. Ultimately, in 2010, the town combined senior services, recreation and youth.

This consolidation allowed us to reduce the administrative costs of the three departments, which resulted in more funding being available for programs.

Unfortunately, shortly after the consolidation, we realized there was a dilemma on the senior side of the department. The programs had become so successful, we had outgrown our space. This was true for both the adult day care center and the senior center. And with a growing senior population, it was only bound to get worse.

In 2011, with space issues’ becoming more critical, we began to explore the expansion of the adult day care center. This center provides a wonderful place for adults who are in need of assistance, particularly people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

An informal working committee began to meet to come up with a solution to our space constraints. After exploring several options, we were ready to present our proposed plans to the town board in early 2013.

Shortly after The Sun reported our need for a larger facility, I received a call from Jim Bodziak, Frontier superintendent, regarding the Frontier Learning Center. Within a few short months, the town and the district entered into an agreement, wherein the town would lease the entire learning center from the district. It was a winning proposal for both and highlighted the strong level of cooperation between the town and the district. And now we could expand both the adult day care center and the senior center.

The town immediately began to put together plans for a world-class senior center and adult day care center in this 41,000 square foot building. In June, the town held a public informational meeting, to inform the public of our ideas and more importantly, get input from our senior population.

The result of this input was truly amazing. Our adult day care center will more than double in size. We will have segregated spaces, so that different activities can be done simultaneously. A quiet room, something new, will give participants a place to get away from the activities and rest, if needed. There will be a TV room, a game room and a larger general activity room. A spacious dining room will allow us to meet the nutritional needs of these participants. There will also be an outdoor patio complete with a figure 8 walking path.

The Senior Community Center proved equally exciting. In this space, nearly triple the size of the existing center, we knew the fitness room and the therapeutic pool would be important to the community. When opened, the fitness room will be nearly double its existing size and will have larger locker rooms for the participants. The design allows for future expansion of the fitness room and the relocation of the therapeutic pool.

Our seniors were elated with the increased space for new programs and activities and the ability to have more meetings. In fact, several people have pointed out that their respective groups had been told they could not meet regularly in the current senior center, because there was simply not enough room. That will all change soon.

Other great ideas came directly from our seniors. The center will have a small reading room, an art room and a game room. Outdoor gardens and spaces for games, such as bocce ball, will be created. The gymnasium will be able to be utilized for different senior sport leagues, such as badminton.

The meal program will be enhanced in a much more spacious cafeteria. Existing programs, such as our nationally recognized AARP defensive driving course, will be allowed to continue and grow.

The town also benefits from being able to consolidate the administration of the recreation, youth and senior department into one building. It is currently spread over four separate buildings.

The gymnasium will also be used by youth and adult basketball and volleyball leagues, when not being used by the senior groups.

We continue to be on track for a grand opening in January 2014 and work should begin in the next couple weeks.

This is an exciting new endeavor for the town and its senior population and we cannot wait to see everyone there.
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