Dear TAPinto Red Bank Editor:

It is time that the voiceless, our seniors, be heard at this moment to preserve the Red Bank Senior Citizen Center and stop the demolition by neglect.  Mayor McKenna’s Administration had a vision for this center years ago as a way to connect older Red Bank senior adults to vital community services that can help them stay healthy and independent. 

Approximately 70% of the senior citizen participants are women.  Half of them live alone and the majority are African-American, Hispanic and Asian that utilize our Senior Citizen Center.  Our Senior Center participants have higher levels of help, social interaction, life satisfaction and lower levels of income.  Now, during this great pandemic, our Mayor and Council are threatening and taking action to close our Senior Citizen Center.  This move will be detrimental to our senior citizens and residents of Red Bank.

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As a former Council member and volunteer at the Senior Citizen Center years ago, I find it incredulous and irresponsible that our leaders in the hippest town in New Jersey have not found a solution to repair and renovate the Senior Citizen Center.  I have heard the argument that there are other projects that need to be addressed. These projects have been needing attention for quite some time; however, our senior citizens need our protection and priority now.  The argument against repairing and renovating the Senior Citizen Center indicates that our Mayor and Council failed to have any vision to allocate resources to refurbish buildings in our great Borough. 

It has come to my attention that the Borough has bonded over half a million dollars to an entity that should never have been created and does not serve our residents, namely, the Redevelopment Agency.  This Agency has added over 2 cents to our tax bill and has increased our debt obligations.  It does not serve our community.  We have a great Zoning and planning Board that are filled with professional and competent individuals that are capable of meeting the redevelopment issues confronting the Borough of Red Bank.

The McKenna Administration built this Senior Citizen Center with the understanding that it would always be maintained and open to our seniors with an outlet for community activities and the sharing of ideas.

Now is not the time to ignore our seniors when they are under great duress financially and facing health dangers.  In ignoring our seniors and their voices we ignore our past and repeat our mistakes in the future. 

I hope that this letter resounds with all of our residents and promotes action to encourage the repair and renovation of our Senior Citizen Center.    This call to action is also to request that all voices be heard.  It is time for more voices and residents to be at the table because it is clear that our leaders are not listening to the voices of the residents.  The voices that have requested and demanded the renovation of our Senior Citizen Center must be supported and supported with action.

It is clear from the Minutes of meetings that our leaders of the Mayor and Council are betraying our existing senior citizens and turning a deaf ear to the voiceless and are not going to save and repair our Senior Citizen Center.  The excuses and reasons for a 3-year delay in renovations demonstrate a lack of respect for all of our seniors and deafness to the voice of our seniors.

The insurance monies received should be placed in a special account dedicated to the renovation of our Senior Citizen Center.  A second insurance claim should be submitted for additional damage that was discovered and there should be transparency and an explanation to the residents of the claims process. 

Mayor Menna, you were part of the Council that created the Senior Citizen Center.  At the time of dedication, Mayor McKenna and you indicated that it will serve many generations of our seniors.  Now is not the time to forget your promise or turn a deaf ear to our residents who are voiceless and under attack from a very serious pandemic. 

This call-to-action letter is requesting that the Senior Citizens Center be repaired and renovated to keep its doors open.  In addition, there must be changes allowing more voices to be heard at the table of the decision makers.

The voices of the many cannot be ignored by the ears of a few. 

If the ears of the few choose to ignore, then the voices of the many should make changes to ensure that they have a seat at the table of the decision makers in the room where it happens. 

Very truly yours,

MICHAEL R. DuPONT