Phillipsburg council members bemoaned the closing of one of their locally-based senior nutrition centers at Tuesday’s board meeting.
“I find it kind of strange that they want to shut down a program in an area that needs it the most like Phillipsburg,” said Council Vice President John Lynn. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
According to officials, New Jersey’s Warren County is currently transitioning from having five nutrition centers to having three, a process that will be completed September 1 and will include the closing of the Bernardine-May American Legion Post in Phillipsburg.
Mayor Harry Waynt Jr. though says that county Freeholder Ed Smith has vowed to keep the program in the area.
“I’ve had conversation with Freeholder Smith… and the feedback that I got from [him] was that he’s 90-some percent sure we’re going to keep it in Phillipsburg, maybe not at the same location that it is [now],” he said.
The nutrition program will likely now be moved to the Phillipsburg Senior Center, which is located just two blocks away from the outbound American Legion Post.
Several officials said a compromise was needed to meet and keep the program alive.
“We need to keep it here regardless of where it is,” said Wyant.
The Mayor went on to say that the move will have the positive effect of bringing monetary relief to the region.
“You’re always looking to recapture dollars,” Wyant said. “It’s a minimal amount that it costs to keep the nutrition center up but every minimal amount adds up.”
”I think the need in Phillipsburg is great,” said John Lynn. “I think they need to make a strong effort to keep the nutrition program in the city of Phillipsburg”
Board members though disagreed over whether the monetary relief was worth the potential loss of services given to senior citizens.
“You really can’t put a price on something for people that have giving back to the community all those years,” said Council President Todd Tersigni. “If that was your mother, or your father, or your grandmother, or your grandfather you would probably feel the same way.”
Phillipsburg mayor and council said they intend to hold Freeholder Ed Smith accountable to his vow.