SALEM — With a larger percentage of out-of-town residents joining in on the fun at the Ingram Senior Center recently, town officials said they have no choice but to raise annual membership fees again for nonresidents.After a lengthy discussion Monday night, selectmen opted to increase membership fees by $5 in the coming year. Beginning Aug. 1, nonresidents will pay $35 annually to use the Ingram Senior Center.
Selectman Patrick Hargreaves said the fee was still a “pretty great bargain” for nonresidents.
“You can’t compare our senior center to anywhere else within a 40-mile radius,” Hargreaves said. “That’s why people keep coming here from Methuen and Lawrence, from Hampstead and Plaistow. We have more programs, we have a brand new dance floor. … Nobody’s gong to gripe about (the fees) and people are going to still keep coming.”
Selectman James Keller wondered whether the current senior center, located at Sally Sweets Way, would be large enough to accommodate growing demand.
“Are we getting to the point where we’d need to ration back on people from out of town?” he asked.
“Right now we’re very, very close to having that dialogue,” Drelick told him. “But the fee structure could help prevent us from needing to have that dialogue.”
As it stands now, Salem residents are given first priority when it comes to events and activities with a waiting list.
“Salem residents are always served first,” Drelick said.
Several weeks ago, when a new exercise program was immediately filled with Salem seniors, around 40 nonresidents were placed on a waiting list, she said.
“The good news is the nonresidents are very understanding,” Drelick said. ” I think this registration fee shows it is a privilege to take part in Salem taxpayers’ benefit.”