By Kellen M. Quigley

Big things are happening at the Concord Senior Center, and its director hopes things keep going that way in the months to come.

During the reorganizational meeting of the Concord Town Board, senior center director Eleanor Eschborn updated the board on all that’s been happening in recent months, including the expansions and progress that has been made for seniors in the town and what she hopes to keep rolling in 2020.

“First of all, I wish to thank the town board and all the board members for all the help you’ve given the senior center last year,” she said. “The senior center has really grown.”

In 2019, Eschborn said the center served 5,003 lunches, compared to the roughly 1,200 served just a few years ago. She said this is partially due to increasing lunches to five days a week instead of only three.

In the fall, the center also began offering breakfasts on select days, but has since expanded to five days.

“It’s starting slow, but we’re having quite a few for breakfast now,” Eschborn said.

Also in the fall, Eschborn and the center have begun managing the scheduling and operation of the town’s senior van. With a few new policies in place, including having to be registered in order to utilize the service, she said things are in much better control.
“Since I have taken over, I’ve been having people riding together,” she said. “We’re doing the same amount or even more appointments, but doing less miles because people are riding together, so that should help the van.” Eschborn said the van’s gas is now coming from the town.

Additionally in 2019, the center and Eschborn assisted 247 seniors with social service work.

“That goes to show that we need something for a social worker in the area,” she said. “It’s really a hardship for a lot of the seniors to go to Buffalo. So far this year, I have 11 people already that come to me for social service work.”

Looking to the new year, two pilot programs with Erie County are also being run at the center in 2020. Eschborn said AARP is now offering free tax service to seniors at the center began Jan. 30 and going for 10 weeks. A new Scene Book Club is also happening at the center now.

There is also a new way to honor the local veterans at the center. Eschborn said there are two designated parking spaces at the center for veterans with signs reading, “Thank you for your service.”

A new computer station is also set up at the center for any senior looking for a way to get on the internet, but Eschborn said they are looking for old computers looking for a new home.

“I don’t care about the programs on it,” she said. “As long as it can surf the web, we will take it.”

A new program, The Shining Star, will honor a different senior every month with a little gift from the various clubs at the center. At the end of the year, Eschborn said there will be a final event at the end of the year for whoever was honored to have a chance at a grand prize.

“Please stop down to the center any time you get a chance,” she added.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, Springville resident Allison Duwe addressed the town board concerning the proposed project for a new skatepark at Heritage Park in the village.

The town approved a resolution in support of having a “permanent, free, accessible concrete skatepark.”

Duwe said a group of volunteers are putting in an application to the Tony Hawk Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation for a $250,000 grant to install a permanent in-ground skatepark.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for the broader community and for recreation for youths and families,” she said.

According to Duwe, the grant would require matching funds. She said if the project is awarded the grant, the community would have a year to raise the additional $250,000. After that, there would be another year for the design and build process.

“You don’t need plans yet,” she explained. “They want to see that there’s support and engagement and that we’re understanding what the needs are of the community.”

Duwe said when asking community members, the primary uses mentioned would be for skateboarding and BMX biking. She said while the current set-up is fine, they are looking for something that can be more multi-use.

“We have a real opportunity in that park space to think about it being more built-in to the landscape and what other aspects we can design that would integrate it into the park and make it used by ages all across the spectrum and make it feel like something everyone can use and be around,” she said.