YORKTOWN, N.Y. – During the Yorktown election season, it seems nothing is safe from the tug of war of local politics—even bingo.
A political scuffle has broken out over renovations at the Yorktown Senior Center between Supervisor Susan Siegel and councilman hopeful Tom DeChiaro.
“Everything seemed to be resolved, and then election year politics became involved,” Siegel said.
She explained that the Yorktown Senior Nutrition Center needs to use the space formerly used by the senior activity clubs in the morning. That's the time when the clubs usually hold their meetings.
To accommodate, the town proposed to have the seniors meet from 1-4 p.m.
Instead, the seniors are relocating to the Pennysaver building located at 1520 Front Street. The new location was the result of negotiations by DeChiaro and Michael Grace, Siegel's opponent for Supervisor.
Siegel was surprised at the move and claimed that “politics reared its ugly head."
The Supervisor alleged that politicians, seniors, and other residents “were angry because it wasn’t going to be a standalone senior center," and some were just plain "Against Susan Siegel."
Meanwhile, DeChiaro blamed Siegel for using the seniors’ activities as a “political football” since he wanted to relocate the senior services to his personal winery in Mohegan Lake.
In between rounds of bingo from the Pennysaver lunchroom, members of the senior activities groups sang praises of DeChiaro and Michael Grace, who helped secure the new location.
“I thank Michael Grace and Tom DeChiaro, because without them we were left out in the cold,” said Rhoda Sussman, president of Yorktown Seniors Chapter 1, who used the room on Tuesday. “We thank them for all they did, from the bottom of our heart.”
DeChiaro said he was initially approached by the seniors to help them find a solution because many were worried about using the senior center during construction—he claims many seniors were concerned about the presence of dust and asbestos.
However, Siegel said such concerns did not exist. She cited other groups that currently use the room in the morning, as well as people in the gym that is adjacent to the construction.
“If it’s safe for those people why isn’t it safe for the others?” she said.
DeChiaro claims Siegel’s decision not to allow the senior services to be relocated to his winery was politically motivated.
“I felt she tried to politicize this, I tried to keep this quiet and tried to just do it and make it a non-issue, just to help them out,” DeChiaro said. “It’s really disappointing in a sense that our town couldn’t help them find a spot to go. How hard is it to solve a problem like this? It shouldn't have come to this.”