Sullivan's request to fund Darien senior center head count denied
The Board of Selectmen Monday night denied a funding request to hire interns to determine how many seniors use the senior center.
Democratic Selectman Callie Sullivan requested $3,875 to pay for the count, but the request was denied without a vote. Sullivan was the only Democrat present at the meeting.
Sullivan said spending money to relocate the senior center may not be prudent when it was unclear how many seniors from Darien actually use the facility. Sullivan said a few interns could be hired to sit at the entrance and count the number of people who enter, as well as determine who is from Darien and who comes from out of town.
In an interview with the Darien News, Sullivan said her initial plan was to hire only one college intern for about $1,000. She is concerned with the amount of money being spent on the new senior center, and wants to be sure the money is being spent in the most efficient manner possible.
"The lack of actual numbers makes it difficult to vote for the shuffle," Sullivan said. "The current attendance records might be able to answer some of the questions about who is using the senior center."
If the selectmen had a head count, Sullivan said the information could be used to determine how or if there would be additional charges for non-Darien residents.
"I have no idea how many people are there," Sullivan said.
Darien's strong public school system has also encouraged younger families to move into town while the older generation has been leaving.
"There are a lot of places in town that already provide services for seniors and we need to figure out how government can fill the gap," she said.
Sullivan pointed out it would be pointless to put a large number of computers in the senior center when there are already 60 computers paid for by taxpayers in the library which has full-time staff on hand to answer any questions.
Republican Selectman Jayme Stevenson said she wasn't concerned with how many people use the building on a day-to-day basis because the staff at the center already provides similar information on a quarterly and yearly basis. Stevenson said because attendance for programs has continued to rise it proves there is demand for what the facility offers.
Sullivan disagreed with Stevenson's assessment and said quarterly and yearly figures don't show how many people are using the building at any given time and that would impact the decision on how much space the senior center needs.
Sullivan also cited the fact that the senior population in Darien has decreased 6 percent over a 10-year period and since there are other facilities in town like the YMCA and library, an 18,000-square-foot building may be unnecessary.