Waltham residents strongly supported the Community Day Center’s proposed relocation to a Felton Street site during Monday’s City Council meeting.
The Day Center, which assists homeless citizens, is seeking a special permit to relocate to the building at 16 Felton St. The Day Center is currently located in the First Presbyterian Church of Waltham on Alder Street.
If approved, the Day Center would renovate the site to make it meet handicapped-accessible regulations, including bathrooms and an elevator, according to Executive Director Marilyn Lee Tom. The site previously housed Franca’s Pizzeria until about a year and a half ago, according to attorney Philip McCourt, who represents the Day Center.
According to its website, the Day Center would operate out of the second floor in 2,000 square feet. The space includes a kitchenette, sitting areas and office space.
The Day Center, which serves 40 – 60 clients per day, purchased the building October 2012, Tom said.
- The Day Center’s proposal received strong support from a wide range of Waltham residents and community members.
- Robert Marcou, owner of Marcou Jewelers on Moody Street, said he supports the project because the population the organization serves needs assistance. “They are not bums. They are fellow human beings … and I believe they are worth saving,” Marcou told the Council.
- Citing the issue of poverty, Robert Perry said he supported the project. “We as a civilization have to do all we can to alleviate that,” said, Perry, who owns the Elephant Walk on Main Street.
- Waltham resident Martha Creedon also spoke in support of the proposal saying homeless citizens need a safe place to go during the day. “Imagine not knowing where you are going to be,” she said.
- Several Day Center clients spoke supported the proposal saying it helped them when they faced struggles in their lives.
While support was strong, it is not clear whether the Day Center needs a special permit. City Council Ed Tarallo, who is also the City Planner of Woburn, said he does not believe the Day Center needs a permit. He said he wants a memorandum prepared for the city’s legal department to review the issue.
“The reality is there may be no matter this Council can act upon,” Tarallo said.
McCourt told the Council the city’s building inspector said a permit was needed because the day center falls under the social club use in the city’s zoning regulations.
- Tom, in response to City Councilor Robert Logan’s suggestion of possible future problems at the site, said the center had been a good neighbor to the abutters of its current site. She also said the center enforces several rules including prohibiting drug and alcohol use.
- “I think if you asked of the abutters that are here tonight they will tell you we have been very good neighbors,” Tom said.
The issue was referred to the City Council’s Ordinance & Rules Committee.