Senior center lease up-in-the-air

FLINT TWP. — A new lease between Flint Township, as landlord, and the Carman- Ainsworth Senior Citizens Center has dragged on unsigned for months and continues to be a source of contention.

The old lease expired December 31.

Public comment at the past two board meetings was about the lease and tensions over use of the senior center including availability for elections.

David Huffman, a resident who spoke at the board’s June 6 meeting, criticized difficulties poll workers had gaining access to the building for the May 3 school election because the center’s director said it interfered with the schedule of activities, he said.

“Flint Township taxpayers own it,’’ Huffman said. “I think it is time for this group to go. We need new management at the senior center. The animosity must stop.”

The board did not respond to his comments.

But at the next board meeting on June 20, resident Jim McClung, who serves on the senior center’s executive board, said he wanted to respond.

“At the last board meeting, an individual got up and talked trash about the senior center,” McClung said. “I want to set the facts straight.’’

Recounting the center’s history, McClung said that it and the adjacent McCarty library on Graham Road were built in 1976 on property donated by the Carman-Ainsworth School District, using Community Development Block Grant Funds. It was administrated from 1976 to 2006 by a partnership between the township, the school district and the senior center, he said.

With the passage of a ten-year millage in 2006 earmarked for the senior center, the partnership changed. For one, the township and school district no longer share the responsibility of hiring staff. That is now done by a governing board, he said.

McClung said township administrators asked to close the center for three days during the May election which put “at risk” some seniors who use the building daily. The senior center provides a full array of services for residents ages 60 and up including a daily noon meal, transportation, educational classes, fitness programs, shopping trips, health screenings, information and referrals and more.

Responding to McClung, township supervisor Karyn Miller said the township had not asked for the center to be closed three full days for the election. It asked for the afternoon before the election, the day of the election and the morning after, she said.

That time frame for local, state and/or federal elections is stipulated in the unsigned lease which identifies the senior center as one of seven polling sites in the township. The lease also states the township clerk will direct the set-up and delivery of equipment on the day before a scheduled election and that center employees will assist township employees in breaking down equipment after the election.

McClung called for settling the lease.

“It’s been a year since we started working on this lease and we still don’t have one,” he said. “It is high time we step up to the plate and give a lease.’’

Miller responded that the township board approved the lease in December and submitted it to the senior center’s governing board to be signed.

“The lease is not signed because the board has not met this year,’’ said Miller, who is a member of that board. She said she’d keep working on it but noted that if language in the lease is changed, particularly in regard to use of the building for elections, then it might have to go back to the township attorney for his OK then back to the township board for re-approval.

The term of the new lease, once signed, is through December 31, 2015, according to the document.

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