On Monday, February 8th the Portsmouth Town Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Church Community Housing Corporation to begin the process of potentially building low and moderate income housing and a Senior Center in Portsmouth. Prior to this Town Council meeting this MOU was never discussed in public by the Town Council or the Town Administrator.
The building that houses the Portsmouth Senior Center has been a topic of concern for many years. The building requires major renovations and residents including the Portsmouth Senior Center Board of Directors have been working to resolve these issues. Therefore it was amazing to learn that the Town Administrator has been working on this MOU for more than six months.
The residents and members of the Senior Center deserve better. Behind the scenes negotiations and undisclosed meetings are not the hallmark of “good government”. Not involving the residents and members of the Portsmouth Senior Center in a potential multimillion dollar project is unfathomable.
The Town Council needs to establish a town sanctioned committee consisting of Senior Center members and interested residents from a broad demographic rather than a focus group. This will allow residents to voice their concerns in an open forum and help develop the future of the Senior Center. We must all advocate for community involvement in determining the future direction of Portsmouth and its senior citizens.