Mysterious and threatening letter upsets local seniors

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:34

Membership in senior groups may be behind the note, but police will investigate FLORIDA — A number of senior citizens have recently received an anonymous letter that reads: “Let your safety be your guide, vote for a maximum of 85 (eighty five), otherwise you may be burned alive.” The somewhat rhyming message was printed on a red background picturing a shadowy figure outside a burning building. So many people were upset by the letter that it was immediately reported to the Warwick Police Department and brought to the attention of the Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton. What apparently prompted the letter was an on going dispute among members of the Golden Floridians, one of six senior groups within the Town of Warwick. The Golden Floridians meet in the Village of Florida Senior Center on Wednesdays. The other groups meet on various days at senior centers in Greenwood Lake, Pine Island and at the Warwick Senior Center. 'It’s no joke’ Some Warwick residents belong to the Florida group but they argue that the organization favors Florida residents. And for several months, a proposal has been on the table to increase that organization’s membership from 85 to 95 and thereby allow a waiting list of seniors, most of whom live in Warwick, to join that group. It’s been a hot-tempered argument among the members and a vote to change the by-laws and increase the allowable membership was scheduled for this past Wednesday, Dec. 7. The outcome was not available as of this writing. Bob Scott, president of the Golden Floridians, has no idea how many members received what some believe to be a threatening letter. But he is upset that one or more persons in his group may be responsible. “It’s not a joke,” he said. “It could easily be interpreted as a threat.” But Scott admits the letter may have been designed to be an attention device by indicating, in a thoughtless way, that there may be Fire Department occupancy limitations at the center. “This is a very sad situation,” he said. Florida Building Inspector Adrian Mateosian reported that the current building occupancy limit of the senior center is 186 persons, more than enough to accommodate 10 additional members. “This is a multiple purpose building,” he said. “The group wants me to use the occupancy issue so that they can limit membership. If we removed all the tables we could accommodate 250 people. Parking is more of a problem. The Library and the Village Hall are also here and there are only 56 parking spaces. Why don’t they just form another group that meets on a different day?” Detective assigned Sweeton explained that the town contributes to all six senior groups and consequently membership in any group should be open to any senior resident of the Town of Warwick. “We don’t think this letter is a reflection on all the members of the group, but it was inappropriate,” he said. “Someone just didn’t think.” Warwick Police Chief Thomas McGovern, who has assigned a detective to investigate the matter, agrees that the group’s in fighting could have been handled in a more civil manner and without sending a letter that could be perceived as a threat. “The Warwick Police Department,” he said, “will send an officer to the group’s meeting on Wednesday to caution members against sending out this type of message and to advise them that membership in all of the senior groups must be open to any senior resident in the Town of Warwick.” We don’t think this letter is a reflection on all the members of the group, but it was inappropriate. Someone just didn’t think.” Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton