In the aftermath of failed referendums in the past year, to expand the Cambridge fire and EMS station and to add a performing arts center to Cambridge High School, the more expensive requests that came out of a recent survey of older Cambridge-area residents may not happen soon.
That doesn’t mean envisioned projects like the construction of a dedicated senior center and a warm-water therapy pool aren’t valid desires and that survey respondents shouldn’t have listed them as such.
In fact, there is great value in surveys like this one done by the Cambridge Area Senior Resource Network, in that they identify a gamut of needs and wants. Some can be met relatively quickly and for little cost. Others require further conversation about investments the community might make now and into the future. Documents like this survey can guide decision-making for many years.
Any significant public project, from the construction of a new library to the setting aside of land for a park, to the linking of a community to a state bike trail, starts with a vision. From there, discussion can progress to deeper analysis and if there’s broad consensus, to ultimately figuring out where the money might come from to get it done.
Such processes often stop and start before they’re ultimately successful. A regional case in point is the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison that was completed in 1997, nearly 60 years after famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright brought the design to the city of Madison in 1938.
The Cambridge Area Senior Resource Network was created a couple of years ago with a then-narrowly focused goal of ensuring that senior meals continued to be offered in Cambridge, at a fair cost.
That its members further coalesced during a global pandemic to complete a soon-to-be-released area directory for seniors, and to complete the survey, speaks significantly to how much those involved value local seniors.
The strong response to the survey also speaks to how engaged those age 55 and older are in the Cambridge community.
We’ll be watching eagerly for small changes that we hope will come about quickly now that needs are better defined. We’ll also be watching as eagerly in coming months and years for further conversation on the more expansive — and expensive – visions.
If one day we are fortunate enough to attend a ribbon cutting in Cambridge for a senior center and/or a warm-water pool, we’ll recall when and how the conversation about those was sparked. We’ll recall that the first step was seniors speaking up in a simple survey that local churches, the library, and other dedicated organizations and individuals helped to disseminate.
And in hindsight that’s not yet available to us in 2021, we’ll know that the community went on to successfully work through the needed processes to bring them to reality.