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I am the Chair of the Newton Council on Aging. Last night, we had our first meeting of the year, which was also one of the NewCAL Community Meetings. The meeting was attended by Mayor Fuller and Commissioners Colino, DeRubeis and Morse, members of the Council on Aging, and a very small number of members of the community.

The purpose of this letter is to apprise the community of what happened at our meeting last night.

Let me begin by saying as a Council, we are enormously grateful to Mayor Fuller for committing the personal and political capital necessary to support the construction of a new Senior Center.

Mayor Fuller started the meeting by recognizing that the proposal to site NewCAL at Albemarle has been met with vocal opposition from some members of our community. In recognition of the concerns that have been raised, Mayor Fuller announced last night that she has asked the Working Group to re-assess some of the sites that were removed from the list of potential sites – notably, the Newton Centre Triangle. She announced that other sites would be reconsidered as well, and indicated that the City remains open to other suggestions.

As Chair, I emphasized that the Council on Aging had not, as some have asserted, written a letter of support for siting NewCAL at Albemarle; we did write a letter of support for studying the feasibility of Albemarle. We stand by that letter of support.

Many of the Council on Aging members have attended the Community Meetings on NewCAL, and have heard the Community’s comments and concerns about siting NewCAL at Albemarle. Traffic, parking, lack of access to amenities, impact on FA Day students and abutters – we have heard all of these issues and more. We have also heard from many seniors who strongly support the site.

As a Council, we are firmly committed to the construction of a new Senior Center for the City. We outgrew the existing Senior Center some time ago, and the Senior population in Newton continues to grow.We recognize that in a city as densely populated as Newton, every site will have tradeoffs. We hope that those tradeoffs will not kill this desperately needed building.

As a Council, we will make every effort to keep the community more informed of what we are doing –starting with this letter. A new Senior Center has been at the top of our list of priorities for some time now, and we are grateful for a Mayor who has heard and recognized this need. My hope is that the City
will join with us in driving this project forward.