Southampton Council on Aging gets $50K lift from state ARPA funds

  • Southampton Council on Aging has received $50,000 from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. State Sen. John Velis made the announcement at the Southampton Senior Center on Monday.  —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/KEVIN CHAMBERS

  •  Southampton Council on Aging has received $50,000 from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. State Sen. John Velis made the announcement at the Southampton Senior Center on Monday. From left: Velis, COA Director Joan Linnehan, Select Board member Francine Tishman, Select Board Chairperson Chris Fowles, Housing Authority Director Janet Cain, Town Administrator Ed Gibson, and Select Board member Maureen “Reeny” Groden. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/KEVIN CHAMBERS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/30/2022 9:21:28 PM
Modified: 8/30/2022 9:17:47 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — After receiving an unexpected $50,000 boost, the town’s Council on Aging is considering expanding its current offerings or making upgrades to its equipment or services.

State Sen. John C. Velis, D-Westfield, announced Monday at the Southampton Senior Center that the municipal department is receiving $50,000 from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. 

“Just the other week I joined the Southampton Select Board's meeting to share news about legislation that will benefit the town and this funding for the Council on Aging is an important part of that,” Velis said in a statement. “The COA has always been a critical resource for Southampton's seniors, but over the past two years, Director Joan Linnehan and the rest of their team have really gone above and beyond to meet the needs of seniors during the pandemic. This $50,000 will allow them to expand their services and outreach even more, and I am proud that my team and I were able to get this funding across the finish line to support Southampton's seniors."

Gov. Charlie Baker signed the $4 billion ARPA funding and surplus tax revenue spending legislation into law in December.

From here, the Council on Aging Board will meet to discuss how the money can best be used, said Joan Linnehan, director of the council. One possibility is using the money for transportation, Linnehan said. 

“Transportation has always been an issue. We have the FRTA — the Franklin Regional Transit Authority — out here and we might consider getting a vehicle, but we will be discussing our needs and what makes the most sense,” she said. “As we’re working on the feasibility study of a new center, this money will definitely be put to good use.”

Meanwhile, the town, in conjunction with its ad hoc Senior Center Feasibility Committee, solicited a request for qualifications for a designer to conduct a feasibility study for the construction of a new senior center. According to Town Administrator Ed Gibson, the town received five submissions and will be conducting interviews throughout this week. 

The feasibility committee will select a design firm by Friday, Sept. 16, Gibson said.  

The study was a stipulation of a bequest from late resident, David “Red” Parsons, who died May 17, 2021. He bequeathed approximately $2.5 million to the Council on Aging toward the construction of a new senior center. To receive the bequest, the council must complete the feasibility study by March 16, 2023 — within two years of his passing.

“We’re thrilled, especially for the fact that it’s earmarked for senior programming or equipment for our COA. It’s always a struggle in our budget to find enough funding to go around. This is a big boost for our COA and senior population,” Gibson said. “We’re sure we can find some great ways to utilize this and benefit our seniors.”

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