Board institutes fee for use of community room
Alena Caldarone’s bridge club used to meet at the Pemberton Apartments community room every Tuesday afternoon – until recently, when management imposed new rules for the use of the room.
The new rules, which took effect on Aug. 1, include a $25 fee per group per use, according to Ernest Anthony, chairman of the Jamestown Housing Authority Board.
With the imposition of the new fees, Caldarone said the bridge group, along with a number of other groups, has been forced to move out of the community room.
“Our bridge group of up to seven or eight members has been using the community room for many years for three hours on Tuesday afternoons,” Caldarone said.
“Since Aug. 1, we have been taking turns meeting at private homes,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that the residents don’t have groups meeting right in the community room where they can just walk out of their apartments and participate. The residents lost their chance to join different activities right in their community room and the contact with other seniors in their community that goes with it.”
Chairman Anthony, however, said it was complaints from the residents themselves that prompted the board to act.
“The board heard feedback from the residents regarding outside groups using the community room. Over the last several months, there were complaints about how the room was left after some groups were done, and the treatment of some residents by some group members,” he said.
Anthony acknowledged that he is not aware of which groups engaged in the problematic behavior, but said that these complaints were brought before the board and that the board has a responsibility to act on behalf of the residents.
“The board feels the community room is an extension of the residents’ homes. The residents have first use and any conflicts that arise have to be decided in favor of the residents,” he said. “Our obligation as a board is to see to it that residents have use of the facility, and that they can use it without being uncomfortable or having derogatory comments made to them.”
According to Anthony, the use of the community room by outside groups was meant to be a temporary situation anyway.
“Many of the groups moved here when the elevator was being put in at the senior center. After it was completed, some groups decided to stay because they felt the community room was brighter and they liked the atmosphere,” he said. He added that many of the groups that did not want to pay the fee to use the community room have moved back to the senior center, where seniors (including Pemberton residents) can participate.
Although Chairman Anthony stated that, “it is a shame to have to make these kind of decisions,” he stands by the board’s determination.
“The board’s primary responsibility is to the residents,” he said. Anthony said that the concerns were brought before the board and that one of the board members is a resident commissioner who confirmed the issues of messiness and rudeness on the part of some groups.
“Although we were not sure exactly which groups were involved, the board took everything into consideration and decided to institute the $25 fee,” Anthony said.
Caldarone maintains that the bridge group was not responsible for any of the aforementioned conflicts.
“We have not heard any complaints from residents or management. Most residents passing through the room have smiles for us and we exchange a few friendly words,” Caldarone said. She added that the bridge group always cleaned up after itself.
“We always put all the chairs away when we leave, no crumbs or spills, and we shut off the lights,” she said.