Packed Senior Center Meeting Provides Few Answers
City councilors are expected to vote on Mayor Kim Driscoll's financing proposal at their meeting at City Hall tonight.
There were few definitive answers for the 150 city residents who sat through a four-hour meeting at the Salem Senior Center on Broad Street Wednesday night.
In fact, they left without knowing how several city councilors will vote when the proposal is considered again tonight - a fact that angered Mayor Kim Driscoll.
In the moments before the packed meeting adjourned, Driscoll made one last push to have city councilors share where they stand on a proposal to finance a new 20,000-square-foot senior center at the intersection of Boston and Bridge streets.
"What's going to change between today and tomorrow?" Driscoll asked. "I've been working on this project like I'm pulling my hair out for years now and I think this is really unfortunate and I feel disrespected."
Council President Jerry L. Ryan's responses to Driscoll's request: "We don't have to say where we stand" and "I don't give in to peer pressure."
After four hours and dozens of speakers, councilors voted to move the issue out of committee. Meaning they will be forced to reveal exactly where they stand at their meeting at City Hall tonight, when the mayor's proposal to pay for the senior center will be put to a vote.
All except for Ward 3 councilor Todd A. Siegel, who said he will not vote on the issue because Wednesday night's meeting wasn't broadcast live and he felt it would be unfair to city residents who couldn't be in attendance.
"What about the 40,000 other people who couldn't be here?" he asked while reaffirming that he won't be voting on the issue Thursday night.
The proposal will need the support of 8 out of 11 councilors to be approved.
Thomas Furey, William Legault, Robert McCarthy, Josh Turiel, Paul Prevey, Kevin Carr Jr. and Joseph O'Keefe said they will support the proposal. Speaking out against the project was Arthur Sargent III.
Michael Sosnowski and Ryan did not say how they would vote.
The wide majority of city residents who spoke at the meeting were in favor of building the senior center.
Click Here to view our full CoverItLive transcript from last night's meeting.
Salem Patch will be posting live updates from City Hall tonight.
Where do you stand on the proposed project?
Let us know in the comments section below.