CHATHAM, NJ - The announcement came at the annual Thanksgiving luncheon at the Senior Center of the Chathams on Friday.
The seniors were told about Chatham Township's court agreement to turn over the municipal building for 65 affordable housing units. The construction will temporarily bump the seniors out of their ground-floor home in the next 24 to 48 months.
But the seniors were also informed that the senior center would return, along with a refurbished gym, after its move to a place to be determined. Robert Hoffmann, the township administrator, came down to the luncheon to reassure the seniors that the center would return.
"So I see changes," Chatham senior Ruth Mirrer said. "I see an adjustment, but it will be better in the end. We really have to just be happy that we're going to have a home, even though we're going to be homeless for a couple of years. As soon as the board of ed left, we knew the writing was on the wall. The building is really expensive to run without tenants."
Like all other Chatham residents, seniors like Marion Simpkins had questions about the effect on traffic and the questions about where the senior center will be relocated.
"We were just discussing at lunch the car situation," Simpkins said. "When you have couples move in, regardless of whether they have children, they're going to have two cars. There are a lot of cars on the road now. Even on Fairmount Avenue in the morning, I have to come down to Fairmount to get anywhere and there is continuous traffic both ways. That is a concern we have."
Jim Connelly, president of the senior center board of trustees, said that local churches are being explored for the temporary new base for the senior center.
"Where are we going to go?," Simpkins asked. "After hearing what they said today it makes sense. They're going to build up, but where are we going to be put? That's what we're all concerned. The girls here that take care of us, we love them. We really do."