A man, a plan, and a van.
State Senator Jeff Klein has ridden to the rescue of some seniors in a brand new Ford van that seats 14 and holds a wheelchair.
Pilot Cove Manor, a senior residence on Pilot Street on City Island, had not had a new van since 1989. Virginia Gallagher, Pilot Cove’s director, was not sure what was going to happen to the seniors need transportation and no longer drive.
Pilot Cove’s van is used to transport seniors back and forth from church services, doctors appointments, and activities such as the theater and ballet, and is an essential part of life at the facility, she said.
Senator Klein got involved after Gallagher reached out to his office for assistance, at the urging to longtime staffer John Doyle. After 12 to 18 months of work on it, a dedication ceremony was held in the facility’s parking lot on Friday, May 31.
“They had not had a new van since 1989; that’s ridiculous,” said Klein. “They need this van to be able to have seniors do their shopping and to go doctors’ appointments. It is their only mode of transportation.”
It was both Klein’s and Gallagher’s first-time obtaining funding for senior vans and mini-buses under a state Department of Transportation program for that very purpose, he said.
The new van, funded under the State DOT’s Section 5310 program, funds 80% of the vehicle purchase, with the senior residence or facility, in this case Pilot Cove, picking up the remaining 20 percent. The new van is a Ford E-450 Super Duty Van.
The van was used for the first time during the City Island Memorial Day Parade, said Gallagher, adding that it was a fitting first use since it is something that can enable residents to remain engaged in the larger community.
“It opens up the world to them,” said Gallagher. “Some of the seniors are enrolled in City-run van service, but waiting for them to show up often takes such a long time.”
John Marano, chairman of Community Board 10, also spoke at the dedication of the new van, thanking Senator Klein for “being proactive in every aspect of our community.”
“I think it is going to be used for many, many years,” Klein noted, “and will be very important, ensuring that our seniors here at Pilot Cove have transportation to wherever they would like to go.”Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@c
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