First Selectmen Continues Senior Listening Sessions
First Selectmen Dan Rosenthal hosted a public Listening Session for seniors in the Gathering Room of C.H. Booth Library on the evening of February 6.
The meeting was the second session Mr Rosenthal arranged to hear local seniors’ thoughts on what they want in a new senior center director and center. Earlier this year, he conducted a Listening Session at the current senior center, 14 Riverside Road, where there was a turnout of more than 50 community members.
At the library, attendance was more modest — just more than a dozen people — and time was given for all members to participate and speak freely. Wednesday evening's program had been postponed one week due to a snow squall and very cold temperatures that followed on January 29, the night the program had originally been scheduled for.
Newtown’s Commission on Aging Chair Anna Wiedemann sat beside Mr Rosenthal and took notes on the seniors’ input throughout the nearly hour-long session.
At the beginning of the discussion, Mr Rosenthal assured that even though there would be a merging of the social services and senior center director roles, “I don’t think social services belongs in the senior center… Social services does touch the senior community more than others, but it’s not exclusive.”
He added that to ensure confidentiality, the Social Services Department will not be in the new senior center, which will be located in the community center building at Fairfield Hills and is scheduled to be completed this summer.
Though little feedback was given about qualities the seniors would like a new director to have, many in attendance spoke up about the types of programs they would like to see at the new senior center.
Some requested to have more exercise and language-learning classes, presentations focused on medical-related topics, cooking demonstrations, programs to utilize the new community center’s heated pools, lecture series on historical events and people, and the option of having wine tastings.
One woman also recommended that programs at the senior center should be recorded and made available to those visiting in the evenings to enjoy. She said not only would it be a great resource, but that it would generate a lot of interest for those unable to participate in the classes due to scheduling conflicts.
During the meeting, the seniors thanked Mr Rosenthal and Ms Wiedemann for hearing their requests. After the Listening Session had formally concluded, Mr Rosenthal said he encourages people to reach out to him and stayed in the Gathering Room to continue talking with seniors.
To contact First Selectman Dan Rosenthal about the new senior center, visit newtown-ct.gov/first-selectmans-office.
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