Seniors upset over center closure

February 3, 2009 3:36:05 PM PST
The closing of a senior citizens center in Trenton has some elderly folks complaining and at least one city councilman seeking answers to his questions.

"It's a shame and I feel so bad about it. I don't think it's fair!"

85-year-old Helen Szabo and some of her friends are upset by the city of Trenton's decision to close down the South Ward community center for seniors which has been open for decades on South Broad St. providing meals and activities for the elderly.

"Socializing is so important for the mind. Most of us are alone, we come here and we spend out time here and that's what we need. We have to keep this place open," Helen said.

Mary Jane Kopec agrees, "This is my second home. I'm a widow, I have no place, I don't want to sit in my house. I want to socialize and I come here and this is my second family."

The center closed its doors on Friday. Seniors are being told to use the Sam Naples Senior Center instead about a half mile away. But some are balking because they said the center isn't on a bus line, doesn't offer parking and is too far away to get to on foot.

"This is convenient for some people to walk to. The other place is not," said John Jacobs.

Trenton is facing a $28-million budget deficit and officials said closing the senior center is part of a consolidation that will save money. But since the Police Department's vice-squad will still work out of the second floor, the local councilman is wondering how much will actually be saved.

"You're still gonna be paying for power and heat and light so I'm having trouble understanding the pros in disrupting our seniors," said Jim Coston, Trenton city councilman.

Councilman Coston is hoping to get some answers from city officials at Tuesday night's council meeting. He said he knows these are tough financial times but he plans to do what he can to get the seniors back their center.

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