The Friends of the Bourne Council on Aging will be moving out of the Bourne Veterans Memorial Building as of Monday.
The non-profit group sent a letter this week to Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino, citing the reasons for what they called the “very difficult and forced decision” to make that move.
Over the past year or more, the town has been moving to disentangle the finances and non-profit operation of the Friends from that of the Council on Aging, the municipal department that the Friends group serves.
This past week, the Friends learned that Joyce Lindberg, the administrative assistant employed by the Friends, was asked to move out of the space in the COA offices that she had been using.
Ms. Lindberg, the Friends officers wrote in their letter to the town, was asked to move into a storage room “with no natural light source, heat or air-conditioning.” The Friends letter calls the request “insensitive to Joyce and all the Friends of the Bourne Council on Aging” members past and present who have contributed so much to the vitality, success and appearance of the Bourne Community Center.”
Along with Ms. Lindberg’s move, the Friends were also asked to provide her with a computer, desk, and other equipment, since she was no longer allowed the use of the COA’s copy machine.
Since 1979, the Friends members wrote to the town, the group has already paid for the desks, chairs, conference room tables, and window treatments, office supplies, copy machine, and coffee supplies now used by the entire community building. “We have been playing half the monthly expense for a dumpster that we are not allowed to use,” the letter said.
The Friends have opted to rent office space at 258 Main Street, the brick building located across from Red Top Sporting Goods.
The decision to move was approved last Thursday by the unanimous vote of the Friends’ board.
Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino said Wednesday that a town employee had also once used that office, and that he thought that the issues might have been resolved short of the need for a move.
Bourne is not the only town that has been dealing with the issue of non-profits using municipal space. In Mashpee, the COA’s friends group operates out of a thrift shop near the town’s facility. That town also recently dealt with the issue in the context of its library’s Friends group. That group stopped fundraising in September of 2011 over new rules as to where it could hold sales and who would control book sale proceeds.
Bourne’s Friends have no such intention. That organization’s letter states that the move will save the organization the support funds that it has been paying while the group was allowed to operate out of the community building.
“These funds will not only cover our rent but leave additional monies to further support and create new programs for senior and the Friends Food Pantry,” the officers wrote.
Friends Vice President Lisa Laine said that new COA Director Felicia Monteiro has asked the state Ethics Commission to come to Bourne to explain the law as it pertains to municipality and non-profits. She said all town departments will be invited to that workshop.
The letter sent by the Friends of the COA was signed by Friends President Carol MacDonald, Ms. Laine, Treasurer H. Arnold Carr, and Patricia Morley, secretary. A copy was sent to all five selectmen; to Estelle Blake, the president of the COA board; and to Ms. Lingberg.
The Friends will begin their move on Monday. The group expects to have all of the equipment and supplies that have not been previously gifted to the town moved out of the center by October 1.
The Friends new address will be 258 Main Street, Executive Suite 3-C, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532. Its mailing address will be Friends of the Bourne Council on Aging, Inc., PO Box 144, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532.