Local seniors, including (seated left to right): Jim Morewood, Gail Blackburn and Ruth Near enjoy food and conversation Nov. 28 at the Warrensburg mealsite, now located in the basement of the United Methodist Church. The mealsite may be moved to Countryside Adult Home due to access problems.
The Town of Warrensburg’s senior mealsite may be relocated soon to the Countryside Adult Home on Schroon River Road due to inadequacies of the present site in the basement of the United Methodist Church.
The change is independent of the proposed closure of the upcounty satellite mealsite kitchens, an initiative which was recently postponed for at least four months.
The planned change in the mealsite location is due primarily to difficulties of access to the basement site, Warren County Office for the Aging Director Christie Sabo said. Seniors now have to walk down a steep, narrow stairwell to get into the church basement, and county officials are seeking to provide barrier-free access so people with mobility problems can attend the daily lunchtime meals served there, she said.
Also, it is difficult for Meals on Wheels drivers to lug heavy insulated containers packed with meals up the stairwell, Sabo said.
The site has also aging equipment, minor mold growth problems in the kitchen. There also has been a persistent problem with sewage backups, an issue which recently was abated with the installation of a grease trap. It was installed at the church after sewage flowed out of a back room onto the floor of the dining area. Minor foul odors, however, still emanate from the plumbing.
Sabo noted that the facility has passed state Health Department inspection, and the mold has been tested and poses no health hazard.
About 100 meals are prepared each weekday in the church’s kitchen for an average of 15 gathering at the site, plus for about 85 Meals on Wheels delivered to shut-ins in Warrensburg, Lake George and Thurman.
The county now pays about $16,000 to $18,000 per year in rent to the church for the use of the kitchen and dining area. The charges include costs of keeping the equipment like freezers, coolers and commercial dishwasher in good working order as well as expenses related to utilities, snowplowing and trash removal, Sabo said.
The Warrensburg mealsite is the most expensive satellite mealsite to operate among the eight in Warren County, she said. Cost of operation, including personnel costs, is $80,000 to $90,000 per year, Sabo estimated. About $30,000 of that expense is reimbursed by the state, she said.
The move of the mealsite to Countryside is dependent on whether any state aid to the adult home would be lost due to the shared use of the kitchen and dining facilities, county officials said.
County Administrator Paul Dusek is now researching that issue, Sabo said.
Local mealsite personnel said the move to Countryside, in a rural setting 1.7 miles north of downtown, may cut down on attendance since four or five seniors per day now walk to the site for the meals. They said that the county had proposed months ago that a van would be provided to transport seniors from downtown to Countryside in the mealsite were moved there.
Sabo said personnel of her agency have researched other potential sites, but Countryside was deemed the most viable.
Mealsite cook Roberta Cassidy said that potential problems in moving the mealsite to Countryside include sharing the kitchen facilities while the existing kitchen staff there prepares lunch for about 45 residents. Storage space could also be an issue, she said.
Sabo said the mealsite relocation may occur as soon as January — if the move doesn’t prompt a loss of state aid to Countryside.