Cooling equipment used to keep Trenton’s senior citizens cool during New Jersey’s hot summers is in disrepair. City Council members are pushing for a reevaluation of how the program is managed, and possibly the formation of a foundation to provide funding and quicken repair work.
“When work needs to be done on our seniors facilities there’s too much red tape,” said Councilwoman Annette Lartigue. “When something breaks it is an emergency, and by definition an emergency needs to be taken care of immediately.”
Councilwoman Lartigue’s comments followed an announcement at the June 26 City Council meeting that the Reading Senior Center, located in North Trenton, might have to shut down because of a faulty air conditioner that needed to be replaced, according to Business Administrator Jane Feigenbaum.
“The air conditioner was in a poor condition for a long time,” said Jane Feigenbaum, who said in the past there had been trouble getting the funding for the replacement. “Now it’s just a question of how quickly it can get done.”
Trenton residents at the meeting said this trend was nothing new with the city’s maintenance of equipment.
“This city has a tendency to not take care of the things it has,” said South Ward resident Patricia Stewart. “Seniors paid their dues, and if they want something they should get it.”
The replacement cost of the air conditioning unit was estimated at around $75,000, but the city has delayed the work for some time because of difficulty in setting aside that small amount of money, according to administration officials.
Councilman Gine Melone said the city should take better care of its seniors, who represented a sizable tax base of middle-class residents in the city.
“There’s a lack of equipment and a lack of activities, and the suburbs seem to be getting ahead of us,” said Mr. Melone. “It seems the program has slipped since I got on council, and seniors are heading to the suburbs.”