Editorial: Speak up — respectfully

Ashland Senior Center supporters have three opportunities this month to tell the Senior Center Advisory Committee what they want from the center and its programs. In addition, the committee has planned two open houses at the center.

The city Parks and Recreation Commission and the department's director, Michael Black, have been under intense criticism since August, when Black dismissed the center's paid staff and announced plans to change the center's operations. Some of those changes were put on hold following public outcry from the community, and the advisory committee was created to collect public input and make recommendations about the center's future.

That input will now be taken. Even the most vocal critics must admit that three public hearings plus two open houses in a single month — December, at that — is an impressive schedule for an ad hoc committee of volunteers.

It is now incumbent upon those who speak for Ashland's seniors to do so with respect for the volunteers on the committee, and with the goal of seeking the best future for the center and its programs.

It's also important to understand that, despite the stated wishes of some contributors to the Tidings' Voices pages, the committee is unlikely to recommend re-hiring the departed staff and putting everything back the way it was. Personnel matters are not subject to public review, and reevaluating program offerings every so often is not inherently a bad idea.

The first meeting is 12:30-2 p.m. Wednesday at the center, 1699 Homes Ave.


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