Story and Photos by Nancy Wareham-Gordon
Once a month, representatives from the local senior citizen club in Peekskill meet with the mayor and other city officials to discuss concerns and issues of importance to members of their club. A top need this year is a larger bus which is wheelchair accessible and whether there are grant funds available for the city to make a new bus a reality for 2020.
“The current bus is not wheelchair accessible and accommodates only 20 seniors with the last row of seats reserved to hold their folded walking aids,” said Geraldine Kearse, a previous senior club president and a two-year volunteer member of the Senior Citizen Advisory Council. The bus is used for shopping trips to grocery stores and Walmart along with picking up seniors at their homes to bring them to and from the nutrition center for a meal, said Ray Glashoff, director of senior programs for the city. He said he is working out a schedule to have the same bus do more frequent trips to accommodate the increased number of people wanting transportation. There are about 120 members in the club said Glashoff.
Mayor Andre Rainey said the city must weigh funding priorities for its citizens: a new bus for seniors or a new fire truck to reduce dependency on aid from other municipalities.
Other issues such as cab fares, snow removal, sidewalk repair and handicap accessibility were presented as top 2020 priorities of Peekskill’s senior citizen community, a leading senior advocate said. Marsha Bailey, the city’s liaison to the Peekskill Senior Club, an unpaid position, and a volunteer member of SCAC since 2009, said these concerns were discussed with city officials during their January meeting.
Taxi cab fares within the city of Peekskill is an issue for the elderly population said Bailey. Currently the fare is $3 for a senior with an accompanying person charged a dollar. Another issue involves safety for seniors who navigate sidewalks daily. It is the responsibility of owners of residences and businesses in Peekskill to shovel the snow off their sidewalks and provide sidewalk repair and maintenance.There is also the need for installation of an automatic handicap access door to City Hall, Ms. Bailey said. Seniors go into city hall for a variety of reasons, from paying their tax and water bills to acquiring handicapped parking passes.
Ms. Bailey said the seven-member SCAC panel, comprised of a member from each of Peekskill’s senior residence buildings, “compiles a list of problems they (have) heard from Peekskill seniors and take turns making statements to city officials during monthly meetings.”
“Needs from Peekskill seniors can range from tree branches extending over their sidewalk to potholes on their street or neighborhood,” she said. “One of my primary concerns were the lack of stop signs at Broad and Brown streets. The city recently added them, noted Ms. Bailey, who has lived in Peekskill for 70 years.
Any senior can communicate their concerns to the seven members of SCAC, which includes Bailey and Kearse, in addition to Dozier Wilson, Barbara Wells, Sandra Austin and the newest member, Monique Holman. The next meeting between the mayor and senior representatives is scheduled for March 3.