Norwalk city council members tentatively agreed Tuesday to spend more than $37,000 for a new billiards table at the city's senior center, and to relocate the billiards room to another part of the center. The project will be put out to bid before it is brought back to the council for final approval.
A majority of council members defended the cost, calling it an investment in Norwalk's elderly population.
Councilwoman Cheri Kelley, however, the lone dissenter, called the project "an expensive, expensive endeavor" that she could not support.
Earlier this year council members directed staff to look at possibilities of expanding the billiards program at the Norwalk Senior Center after receiving complaints of long wait times. The billiards room currently has three pool tables with high usage on a daily basis, said social services director Veronica Garcia.
"Due to the size of the room an additional table cannot be accommodated and it would be necessary to relocate into a larger room," Garcia wrote in a report to council members.
City staff's proposal was to swap the billiards room with the TV and lounge room. Although the lounge is only 20 square feet larger, the room's configuration would allow for a fourth pool table, officials said.
Renovating the two rooms to accommodate their new uses -- including the installation of new flooring and lighting -- would cost an estimated $30,000, according to Garcia.
A new 9-ft. pool table is estimated at $5,075, not including an additional $2,500 for pool table relocation, balancing and refurbishing.
"Yes, it is a lot of money but this table is going to last 20 years," Councilman Leonard Shryock said Tuesday. "But it is relatively inexpensive when you look at the long term...When it comes to taking care of our seniors, money is secondary."
Kelley underscored her support of seniors but said she has "a hard time justifying spending $37,000 when we can't fund our other programs."
"It's hard for me to swallow $37,500 that is designated for one specific program," added Vice Mayor Marcel Rodarte, though he voted to move the project forward in order to have concrete numbers from contractors.
City officials will now initiate a formal bid process to hire a contractor to complete the renovations.