Purple was the predominant color in the audience at Monday night’s city council meeting, April 4, as concerned seniors wearing Gladys Lemmons Senior Center shirts gathered, concerned about perceived threats posed to their facility.
When the public comment portion of the meeting opened, Mayor Pat Paul assured the audience that the senior center would not close. Paul claimed there had been no discussion on the topic and pondered aloud where “the rumor” could have started.
“Look at this grey hair,” Paul said pointing to her head. “Don’t you think I’m going to want the center around in a few years?”
Guy Miceli of the Oakdale Senior Citizens Foundation led off the public speakers advising the council that over 875 seniors use the facility and 90 to 110 individuals use the center every day.
Miceli said that the foundation continues to support the center with $10,000 every year.
“Seniors have one thing in common and that is time,” Miceli said. “I’m a senior and I know I have a lot of time. I hope the city keeps the same (senior center) hours.”
The Senior Center not only offers classes, activities, and support programs but also provides meals at the facility. Programs and services are available to all seniors 55 and over.
Another concern of the golden years gatherers was the city’s proposal for a faux water tank used for cell phone antennas that will be located at the end of Cottle’s trail near the Senior Center parking lot.
Allison Clark noted that she was concerned about the placement of the tower so close to the facility and questioned the effects of the microwave transmissions emitting from the tower on electronic prosthesis devices such as hearing aids and pacemakers.
“I want to know the good, the bad, and ugly,” Clark said. “Please inform us about this.”
Don White said his backyard would be about 20 feet from the tower and was also opposed to its placement. White told the group it wasn’t just senior citizens that were opposed but local residents like himself. He suggested the council look at land near Burchell Hill where actual water towers were located.
Other speakers said they had been in contact with AT&T, the proposed wireless carrier for the tower, who told them everything had been approved.
Paul told the audience that despite many beliefs, the details on the tower were not finalized and there had been no council or city approval for construction.
In other matters, the council put off approving a bid authorization for the Bridle Ridge trail lighting repairs so that officials could look into awarding the bid to a local contractor rather than the lowest bidder.
Don Knickerbocker of Wilkins Pump/Knickerbocker Electric of Oakdale advised the council he had a majority of Oakdale residents on his payroll and purchased his supplies from Oakdale businesses. He asked the council to keep the city’s money in the city.
Three bids for the project were received by the city with Industrial Electrical Company of Modesto being the lowest bidder for the project with a $56,700 bid. Wilkins Pump/Knickerbocker Electric was only $800 behind the lowest bidder.
Councilman Michael Brennan stated that since the repairs were for the Bridle Ridge Landscape and Lighting Maintenance District the residents would have to be consulted for the increase in project cost.
The council also heard an address from Frank Clark and Mickey Peabody about starting an ad hoc committee for the purpose of a sales tax increase so that the city could replenish lost positions.
The council appointed Clark and Peabody to be co-chairs and to establish a seven-person committee.