In September, Mayor Fred B. Allyn Jr. made an executive decision that he hoped would end a months-long dispute over the Jazzercise program at the Ledyard Senior Center. Allyn said the classes could remain at the center.
Not so fast, said George Dieter, chairman of the Permanent Commission for Senior Citizens, which oversees the senior center.
The Jazzercise controversy came to a head last March when the commission ruled that classes in the senior center should be terminated. This week, in a letter to Mayor Allyn, Dieter said the commission’s position has not changed.
“The PCFSC rejects your directive that ‘Jazzercise will remain at the Senior Center Building and the agreement entered into originally by P&R Director (Don) Grise and center Director (Carol) Geiler will be honored and respected until it reaches its anniversary,” Dieter wrote.
He described as “bogus” agreements between Jazzercise instructor Lisa Mazzaro and the Parks and Recreation Department.
“There is no agreement entered into by Director Grise and Director Geiler that has any so-called ‘anniversary,’” Dieter said in his letter to Allyn. “You appear to be confused between some perceived agreement between Director Geiler and Director Grise and a series of bogus instructor contracts entered into by Director Grise and the Jazzercise franchise instructor.”
Reached at home, Dieter said his objections to the Jazzercise classes at the senior center range from damage to the meeting room’s floor tiles to what he described as secrecy around the program and its finances.
“We’ve had to spend a lot of money replacing floor tiles,” said Dieter, who was one of the center’s founders and for whom the meeting room is named. He said town maintenance employees were “quite a few days just replacing tiles.”
During the Jazzercise classes, Dieter said, “nobody is allowed to go in there, and if anyone goes in (Mazzaro) gets all upset and calls the police. She claims she’s being harassed.”
Dieter, 90, said financial details of the Jazzercise classes have not been shared with the commission. “(Mazzaro) doesn’t want anyone to know what she’s doing,” he said, adding that the commission does not know how much Jazzercise profits from use of the center’s space.
In the past, Dieter said, “we’d never allow anyone to come in there to make a profit. I don’t think the town should be leasing out its buildings for a business, and this is a business.
“They use the air conditioning and the heat, wear and tear on the building, and what are we getting out of it? It doesn’t amount to a molehill,” Dieter said.
Asked how he would like to see the issue resolved, Dieter suggested that the classes could be moved out of the center – possibly to the Gales Ferry School – when the agreement between Mazzaro and the town expires.
“We’re in hopes that come next March we can rectify it then,” he said.