ELMA OFFICIALS have searched for several years for a permanent center in which the town's 1,200 senior citizens could meet. They now believe they have found one. It is a sensible solution that deserves the endorsement of town voters in the special referendum next Wednesday.
A center is needed. Seniors now meet in a rented school gym available only one day a week. In the past, they have been shuffled from one site to another.
Unanimously supported by a bipartisan Town Board, the present proposal involves the purchase of 25.9 acres of farm land on Bowen Road for $75,000, along with a partially constructed building on that site for up to $65,000.
Some opposition to the plan flared last summer. Critics cited an executive session and lack of competitive bidding. Board members said they were trying to prevent a bidding war that would have driven up the price.
The $3,000 per acre price looks reasonable. The board already has $105,000 in special grants, with a chance for additional ones. Supervisor Audrey Murdoch says the town can repay a planned $170,000 in short-term bonding over five years without raising town taxes.
Elma would spend a total of $275,000 for the project, including completion of the structure. Eventually, officials also want to develop a town park, with picnic areas and walking paths, on other sections of the 25 acres.
There will be maintenance costs, but the town saves the $10,000 a year it's been paying in rent to Iroquois schools.
Senior citizens in any town can benefit from a permanent place to meet, to conduct their own activities and socialize -- a place to counter isolation and be active among friends with similar concerns and interests.
Approval of the referendum will help fulfill that need in Elma while upgrading park and recreation areas for the town's 10,340 residents.