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Marlen Buchanan

Baraboo Area Senior Citizen Organization president Marlen Buchanan makes her pitch for city support Monday before the Parks & Recreation Commission at the Civic Center.

Baraboo senior center members want the city to help them pay their executive director an adequate salary with benefits.

Dozens of Baraboo Area Senior Citizen Organization members attended Monday’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting to ask for city support.

Marlen Buchanan, the senior center board president, said the group wants to ensure it can offer its director a good package of salary and benefits, but doesn’t want to raise its $25 membership fee. She asked whether the city might consider helping, and perhaps also partnering with the senior center on programming.

“This is kind of a pre-proposal meeting for us,” Buchanan said.

Commissioners expressed support for helping the senior center, but cautioned members that the decision ultimately would fall to the Common Council, and money might not be budgeted until 2020. Diane Pillsbury, the senior center’s director, said most Wisconsin senior centers receive municipal support.

“I think it’s been a great program,” Commissioner Mary Mjelde said. “I think it’s a great idea to keep it sustainable.”

The commission, Parks and Recreation staff and senior center leaders will craft a formal proposal.

“We need the facts and figures to see if we can fit it in the budget,” said council member Michael Plautz, who serves on the Parks Commission.

Buchanan said the senior center isn’t asking the city to take over operations. “It functions very well; we just need some support,” she said.

She argued that a partnership between the city and senior center could enhance both organizations’ programs and prevent redundancy. “We strongly believe that a vibrant senior center is an asset to the city,” Buchanan said.

Parks Director Mike Hardy said the senior center, which has 300 members, will grow increasingly important as baby boomers age.

“It’s not an issue that’s going away,” he said. “It may be a need the city might need to get more involved with.”

Commissioner James Francisco said the senior center’s thick newsletter attests to the breadth and volume of its programs. “I hope we can help to keep this thing growing,” he said.

Park library

Also Monday, the Parks Commission voted unanimously to accept a Brownies troop’s donation of a Little Free Library for Campbell Park.

Jessica Esposito said 12 local third-graders in the Badgerland Girl Scouts want to build and donate a box where residents could borrow and lend books. She said Campbell Park would be a perfect location because it’s near the city’s bustling outdoor pool but far from the Baraboo Public Library. It also lies in an economically challenged neighborhood that might benefit from a free book exchange.

“We feel this will help to serve community needs,” Esposito said. “We feel this is a prime area in need.”

The troop would build the wooden miniature library and donate it to the city, which would mount it. Esposito said the troop wants to maintain the library after it’s installed, perhaps adding a bench later.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Hardy said. “There are a lot of people that would be good for.”

“I think it’s a genius location,” Mjelde added.

Follow Ben Bromley on Twitter @ben_bromley