Scarborough residents won’t have to part with another $400,000, and they have three town councilors to thank for that – Sylvia Most, Patrick O’Reilly and Carol Rancourt.

Those three town councilors voted against a “senior center challenge,” whereby the town would have bonded $400,000 in the hopes of getting residents and businesses to donate an additional $800,000 to build a senior center. Their three votes deadlocked the council in a 3-3 vote, with Councilors Jeff Messer, Steve Ross and Shawn Babine in favor, causing the measure to fail.

Spending this money now was a bad idea for several reasons. First, residents voted against spending tax money on a senior center less than a year ago. Second, there’s been no clear indication the vote would be any different if it were held again today. And third, a study conducted recently by Critical Insights suggested that, when it comes to what things Scarborough seniors want and need, a senior center actually ranks low on the list.

Most deserves particular credit for standing up in the face of insults – Messer called her and Rancourt hypocrites – and articulating exactly why this was the wrong thing for the town to do now. She argued the council would be ignoring the results of the survey and spending money on a projet that voters had already rejected.

“Are we looking to build a controversy center or a community center?” asked Most. “I still hear how we built town hall even though the town voted against it, and here we are 11 months after the town voted on the senior center, and we’re going to fund it anyway. I think it’s the wrong decision.”

Most was right. There are plenty of things the town can do to serve seniors without building a center for them, and the town should be working to address those now. A strong desire among some seniors in town to build a center does not equal a need for the entire town.

Scarborough might eventually build a community or senior center, particularly now that the efforts to expand the library and build a YMCA have also failed. But, after voters rejected this project, the movement to build a senior center needs to come from the ground up – the people who rejected it – not the top down.

Well-deserved award

Congratulations to Scarborough’s town clerk, Tody Justice, who was recently selected as the Clerk of the Year by the Maine Town and City Clerk’s Association.

Justice has been working for the town since 1990, when she started in the finance office of the school department. Four years later, she applied for the position of town clerk, and never regreted her decision.

We’ve always found Justice to be helpful, whether we’re harassing her on election night or calling up with random, last-minute questions for our stories before deadline. She’s courteous, professional and responsive.

As one member of her staff put it, “Her favorite saying is ‘no problem,’ because nothing is a problem to her. She just has a different solution.”

Brendan Moran, editor

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