Categories: Saratoga County
MILTON — The town of Milton is close to leasing commercial property for a temporary town hall, which would free up the Milton Community Center to again be used by the Ballston Area Senior Citizens.
The seniors group has been without meeting space or any programming since mid-March, when town offices were abruptly moved to the Community Center on Northline Road after an outside consultant determined that the Milton Town Hall had a significant moisture and mold problem.
The Community Center is owned by the town, though the senior citizens group had been the primary user of the building.
The town has a tentative agreement to lease commercial space at 433 Geyser Road to serve as a temporary town hall, though nothing has been finalized. Town Supervisor Benny Zlotnick said the cost of the lease isn’t yet settled.
“We have space we’re looking at, and it’s in front of the Planning Board,” said Zlotnick. “It will be back again in November before the Planning Board. We’re out another month, at least.”
The town meanwhile has come up with a plan to have the Town Hall mold problems remediated, including making repairs to the roof that has leaked for years, leading to the mold and moisture problem. Zlotnick said the Town Board is close to authorizing borrowing up to $1 million, though the town will borrow less if the repairs turn out to cost less.
Zlotnick said he expects town government will be able to return to a restored Town Hall sometime in 2021.
The Ballston Area Senior Citizens remain frustrated by the situation, which has prevented the group from having any programming since March, entirely apart from the restrictions that have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, seniors organized a socially distanced picket line outside the Community Center, urging the town to let them return to the building. At that time, Zlotnick said the town was looking at possible alternatives like leasing commercial space.
“We keep running into roadblock after roadblock after roadblock on this, and then something else happens,” said Linda Elmer, president of the Ballston seniors. “It’s not happening as soon as we would like at all.”
After the September protest, Town Court was moved to the Brookside Museum, and that freed up two small rooms at the Community Center. But with social distancing rules, Elmer said the two rooms can hold only four or six people each — not enough for any significant programming. When seniors start meeting again, they will have to deal with logistics for sign-ins and health screenings that are impractical for just a handful of people, she said.
“We’re telling people we won’t be back in the building until Jan. 1, and we’re hoping the town is out by then,” Elmer said.
The Ballston Seniors have more than 400 members, with 150-200 active members. “We’re a very active group. when we were open we had all kinds of activities all the time,” Elmer said.
Other local senior citizens organizations, like those in Malta and Saratoga, are operating with COVID-related gathering restrictions, but are operating. “They have a place to meet. We don’t,” Elmer said.