DOLTON | Municipal officials heard a presentation Monday from a company that wants to take over the daily management of the Dorchester Senior Center.
Village President Riley Rogers said no final decision will be made until a future board meeting as to what will happen with Dorchester, although officials heard from the Awakened Alternatives Inc., a group that wants to operate the facility.
LL Care and Fitness has a contract to operate the facility, but it expires June 30. Assorted incidents in recent years related to maintenance of the facility and care of residents has village officials eager to find a new operator.
Genevieve Thomas said her company would like to have a two-month contract to run the facility starting July 1. Then, they would spend the next two months studying the facility at 1515 E. 154th St., before preparing a bid to the village to take over its management on a long-term basis.
Thomas said her group would keep all current employees for the two-month interim and would operate the facility for the same fees that the village has budgeted for Dorchester – a one-time Ramada Inn that has since been converted into a senior citizen complex and banquet facility.
The complex can house 126 residents, although Thomas said only 44 people live there now.
She said if her company gets the interim contract, its priority will be to improve the marketing of the facility so more elderly south suburban residents are aware of the Dorchester option as they grow older.
Thomas also said her company would keep a full-time manager on-site in the form of Bacari Cowen, whom she said has advanced college degrees in gerontology.
The Awakened Alternatives proposal comes on the same day the Better Government Association released a study concerning the Dorchester and the awarding of a catering company contract for the banquet hall.
That company has indicated a desire to install video poker machines on the premises that would allow for gambling and legal payouts of jackpots.
Thomas said her company would not be involved with that activity. Cheryl Hill, a local resident and activist, said she’d like it if gambling were not included at the Dorchester complex.
“Is that the best place to put a casino or anything with gambling?” she said. “These are senior citizens in their golden years of life. It should not be put there.”
Thomas said she hopes the Village Board acts quickly to approve her group’s request, saying it would be harmful if there was any gap in time with no one in place to manage the facility.
“It is not easy to come by the licenses to operate such facilities; they are valuable,” she said. “We wouldn’t want to have a gap that could cause us to lose the license.”