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PROPOSAL AIRED TO BUILD SENIOR CENTER

With the population of Clarence growing, the town is thinking about building a new senior citizens center and may end up with a new youth center as well.

The town has outgrown its 20-year-old senior center, with the number of people 65 and older in Clarence increasing by 31 percent over the past decade.

Also, the number of people using the 11,600-square-foot center has risen from 600 in 1980 to 2,000 today, according to Donald Stiglmeier, chairman of the town's Senior Citizens board, who noted there are times people are turned away from some events and other times when events have to be held elsewhere.

"They sorely need space," said Supervisor Daniel A. Herberger. "We need to either put an addition on the existing building or build a new building."

The town is considering building near the existing center on Thompson Road, Herberger said. If a new center is built, the town then would consider converting the old facility into a youth center, he said.

The town's current youth center on Sheridan Drive is an old transportation building that has long been obsolete and would probably be demolished, Herberger said.

The town's youth population has been growing more rapidly than its elderly population. Those younger than 18 increased by about 43 percent, to about 3,300, over the past decade.

The town's entire population increased by 30 percent -- or about 6,000 residents -- from 1990 to 2000, census figures show.

More details, including cost estimates, are expected by the board's September meeting.

One plan being considered is a 20,000-square-foot senior center costing about $3 million, Stiglmeier said. The design would allow for expansion to another 10,000 square feet.

Stiglmeier said expanding the current senior facility would meet the community's needs for the next seven to eight years and likely cost about $1 million. Stiglmeier noted this proposal has little support in Town Hall.

Whatever the plan, Herberger said, it will not result in a tax increase but will be financed through borrowing and debt payments.

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