Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Disputes over the Dorchester Seniors Center burst into view again Monday, with Dorchester County Council members and a seniors center board representative trading sharp words during the public comment portion of council’s meeting.
Board Treasurer Tony Oglietti said he came to the meeting to discover council’s intentions.
He said Councilman Willie Davis dropped a bombshell on the board by saying all of council was upset about the board’s decision to stop renting out the Faith Sellers Senior Center.
After the meeting, Council Chairman Bill Hearn said he wouldn’t characterize all of council as “upset.” “Concerned” would be a better description, he said.
But asked directly by Councilman George Bailey whether the board would be willing to again rent out the building in Summerville, Oglietti said it would not.
The building was rented a handful of times in 2012, he said.
“For five or six rentals a year, it’s not worth the time and effort. It’s not our mission,” he said.
Davis said taxpayers shouldn’t have to wait until they’re 55 years old to be able to use the building.
“It’s really pathetic,” he said.
The public has a right to use that building and it could be rented out for dances and civic groups, he said.
Oglietti said past boards rented out the building at the behest of council members because they worried about whether council would continue funding the center.
This dispute apparently began when Davis said the center’s rental rates were too high. He has raised the issue multiple times, including during a struggle over board composition last fall.
Oglietti said he researched the issue and came up with a new rental fee structure, which raised some of the rates and lowered others.
Davis said he told the board to contact council members before voting on ending rentals, but the board went ahead and voted.
Councilman David Chinnis took a quick poll of council to see if anyone had been contacted by a board appointee.
He was truly disappointed not to have gotten a call from his appointee, he said. If appointees aren’t communicating with their council members, they can be replaced, Chinnis said.
Hearn said the county would organize a sit-down between representatives of the two groups, because communicating back-and-forth would take forever to clear up miscommunications.