Taneytown seniors want center to be expanded But county officials say too few people use facility now

December 18, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Taneytown senior citizens who say they need more room at the the local senior center haven't been able to win over county government officials, who say attendance at the center is too low to justify an expansion.

Mayor W. Robert Flickinger, who is representing elderly residents of the northwest Carroll community in their effort, sees the proposed expansion as key to a larger plan.

Flickinger would like to have one section of the building used for an after-school center -- a plan that won't be possible without an addition costing about $400,000 and provision of a sprinkler system throughout the building. The senior center is in a renovated former commercial building in the 200 block of Roberts Mill Road.

"The pool room is so small they can't even get their cue sticks in," Flickinger said. He said he hears complaints about tight space for programs and cold, unappetizing meals.

"We don't have to have a showplace," Flickinger said. "We'd like to see the back end [of the building] expanded. It wouldn't even have to be finished out for the kids to go back in there."

Taneytown's request for additional space is complicated by the fact that the county government uses meals as a major measure of attendance at senior centers.

Some seniors say Taneytown's attendance figures are misleadingly low because elderly residents of the northwest Carroll community turn out for programs such as line dancing and quilting, but boycott the lunches. Some attend programs at Taneytown, but drive to the Emmitsburg senior center seven miles away for meals.

Officials of Meals On Wheels of Central Maryland Inc., which supplies Carroll senior centers at approximately $3 per meal, say food temperatures are checked before meals are served. Distribution manager Allan Robinson said Meals On Wheels has received no reports of problems with cold food at the Taneytown center.

The food is prepared in Baltimore, and Taneytown is the last stop on the distribution line. Robinson said distance isn't a factor, because the food is packed in containers that keep it hot.

Meals On Wheels nutritionist Luverne McDonald said menus are reviewed and suggestions from seniors solicited at quarterly countywide menu conferences. She said she couldn't recall any specific suggestions from Taneytown or other Carroll seniors, who are among 9,000 customers in four counties.

The county doesn't have a standard that identifies a senior center as eligible for expansion, said Jan Flora, chief of the county Bureau On Aging.

Program attendance at the Taneytown center averages 15 a day, but varies from nine to 30, said manager Brenda Lerner. She said 10 to 12 a day eat meals there.

Jolene Sullivan, county director of citizen services, said other senior centers have priority needs. Mount Airy, with average daily attendance of 45, has a committee looking at expansion. At the North Carroll center, parking is limited, she said.

"What we'd really like to see is more folks attending [the Taneytown center] on a daily basis," Sullivan said. "We don't want to see people bumping into each other, but for the county to put several hundred thousand dollars into that building, we have to be sure the site is going to be used by the community at large."

The County Commissioners endorsed the concept of expanding the Taneytown senior center, but said they have not discussed details or received a recommendation from the staff.

Sullivan said she may request a construction project for Taneytown from the county planning commission in November. If the commissioners approve, renovation money could be added to the 1999-2000 budget.

Pub Date: 12/18/97

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