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Fight Over Logistics Keeps Abington Senior Center Closed

SOUTH ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The doors are still shut at a senior center in Lackawanna County. The center has been closed since the first of the year an...

SOUTH ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- The doors are still shut at a senior center in Lackawanna County. The center has been closed since the first of the year and officials are pointing fingers at one borough for keeping the center from reopening.

Officials from five different municipalities met Friday, trying to convince the officials from Clarks Green borough to sign off on a new plan for the center.

Clarks Green officials say they're just doing their due diligence by asking questions and shouldn't be blamed for the closure.

An unfinished puzzle and empty tables and chairs are what you see when you peer into the windows of the Abington Senior Center in South Abington Township. The lease for the property ended on January 1 and the doors have been shut ever since.

"We have seniors that are suffering, seniors that use this facility for not only health and welfare, but also the socialization aspect. After the holidays, wintertime, it's a very difficult time for them," said Jim Davis, Glenburn Township supervisor.

The sign on the door says the center should have reopened on January 22 but officials from five municipalities are still fighting over who should take ownership of the center.

Four of the five - Clarks Summit, Glenburn, South Abington, and Waverly - are in agreement. They want to transfer ownership from Clarks Summit to the Abington Area Joint Recreation Board, which is made up of the five municipalities.

The county's Agency on Aging would manage the day-to-day operations. All five have to sign off on the change. Clarks Green is holding out.

"We want to be very explicit as to which party is going to be doing which and how they are going to be doing it in terms of personnel and coverage of all of the hours of the facility itself," said Clarks Green council member Alan Hughes.

Clarks Green officials don't want to take responsibility for a building that could cost them, and their taxpayers, money.

As owners, the five municipalities would be responsible for the upkeep of the property.

So, if the building needed a new roof, all five municipalities would have to chip in. The amount that each would have to pay would be based on its population size. For example, Clarks Green would take on about 10 percent of the burden.

The Agency on Aging says the new plan will allow the senior center to expand and hopes Clarks Green gets on board.

"Longer hours, different hours, sometimes on the weekends, different activities, we want to focus on grandparents raising grandchildren. We want to put focus on healthy activities in the park, things that haven't really happened traditionally that we have an opportunity to expand upon," said Jason Kavulich, director of the Area Agency on Aging.

Kavulich says he will attend Clarks Green's meeting on February 6 to answer any of the council's remaining questions.

The hope is that after that meeting, Clarks Green will sign off on the plan and the center will reopen.