By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Shrewsbury – A controversy has been brewing over the last several weeks regarding a proposal to rename the Shrewsbury Senior Center in honor of a current Council on Aging (COA) member. While many seniors agree that honoree in question, John Concordia, has been a dedicated volunteer, they insist others have worked just as hard and as such, the center should not be named for one person but kept as is.
On Aug. 26 a memo from COA chair Tim Swiss was sent to Town Manager Dan Morgado and the Board of Selectmen recommending that the Senior Center be named in honor of Concordia. According to the memo, Concordia played a “vital role in the hiring of the COA's first director Landy Johnson, acquiring the original Senior Center space at Parker Road, the hiring of our current and first full-time director Sharon Yager and was chair of the Senior Center Building Committee.”
Swiss acknowledged that others, including “Joe Dyer, the first COA chairman, Tom Rooney, an outspoken advocate for seniors, Eileen Creedon, the first Friends President, and many others,” had done much for the town. But Concordia's “quiet, unassuming leadership and strong advocacy over the last 25 years have undoubtedly left their mark on the town,” he continued.
“John will turn 90 in January and I can's think of a better present to preserve the legacy he has given the town through his many years of dedication to the community he loves, ” he added.
According to the memo, Swiss polled six of the seven COA members on the matter. Five approved of the proposal and one abstained. (The members were not named in the memo.) Swiss then forwarded his memo to the selectmen.
In response, 75 seniors signed a petition that was also sent to the selectmen opposing the matter. Ten of those seniors also sent a letter to the Community Advocate (http://communityadvocate.com/2013/09/09/more-voices-against-shrewsbury-senior-center-name-change-2/) in which they stated their objection to the name change.
“We want it to remain the “Shrewsbury Senior Center,”” the seniors said in the letter to the Community Advocate. “The only people who want to change it are a few people on the Council on Aging Board.””
The issue was discussed briefly at the Aug. 27 Board of Selectmen meeting. As the board was unable to reach a consensus on the whether the building should be renamed it agreed to continue the discussion to its Tuesday, Oct. 8 meeting.
When reached by phone, Swiss noted that at this point he had “no comment on the matter.”
According to the town's website the COA members are: Swiss, the chair; Concordia, vice chair, Martin Green, Charles Fenno, Lillian Goodman, Mahesh Reshamwala and Rita Dichele.