I write this letter after having witnessed much of the testimony given regarding various facilities that are on the town horizon. At this year’s Town Meeting the taxpayers of Wilmington, will be voting to appropriate money for feasibility studies for both a new Senior Center as well as a New Town Hall. There is also strong talk of the Public Safety sub station. The residents of Wilmington may be asked to appropriate money for this project at the same town meeting. While the needs for two of these facilities have their debates on both sides, there is clearly a need to address the Wildwood School more than a new Town Hall, that’s not at all debatable.
It’s very interesting that all this comes out at the same time that we have opened our new tax bills to see that the privilege of living in Wilmington has gotten significantly more expensive. As one senior put it to me recently, “my first mortgage wasn’t as much as I’m paying in property taxes now.” As we continue down the road to building facilities that have been described as adequate, as well as receiving the bills for the necessary construction, how many seniors will we have pushed out of town as those taxes continue to rise? Social media has many comments of folks at the brink of having to leave now. Taxes and Senior cost of living is a matter that needs to be dealt with now, not tomorrow.
According to a November 2017 Lowell Sun article, ninety five seniors signed a petition to place a new Senior Center at the St. Dorothy’s site. They have spoken, there is no better place for a new center than this location. This land can also address a second very dire need for “affordable senior housing.” As I called for in the past, the town should explore a long term lease for “pennies” to a private developer that could develop that land into a 100% affordable complex for the aging Wilmington population. The trade off for the land would be that they build and maintain a senior center there, within that development that would be deeded to the town but maintained by the property management firm in collaboration with the town administration.
This plan would not only address the needs for a new senior center which is within walking distance of almost everything the seniors would need, it has the utility infrastructure, and access to mass transit. It can also provide permanent units that will not fall off the stock list of low income properties. All of this can be done with little to no taxpayer money freeing up capital for other necessary projects. Further, once approved there would be little to delay construction as there is with the town developing their own plan.
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