Town council asks seniors to remove chairs from 'cosy corner'

Town council asks seniors to remove chairs from 'cosy corner'

He had just suffered a stroke, and made it a point to walk every day for exercise.

When he is tired, Mr Tan Chew Lim would sit near the HDB staircase to chat with his friends.

Soon, people started donating and bringing along their own chairs. And then, a "cosy corner" was born.

But the assortment of 11 chairs and two benches at Block 121 Teck Whye Lane will have to go.

On Wednesday afternoon, the residents who have gathered there for their regular chit-chat sessions for the past six years, found a notice informing them that the chairs would be removed within a week.

The notice was issued by the Chua Chu Kang Town Council.

Mr Tan was confused as to why the town council would want to remove the chairs.

"They have been aware of the place for years, but suddenly they are asking us to remove the chairs," said the retiree, 75.

Sad that the chairs will have to go, Mr Tan, who has been going to the corner three times a day for the last six years, added: "We won't have anywhere to go. If I stay at home, I will be bored to death."

FELLOWSHIP BROKEN

Fellow resident and friend, Mr Peh Lian Huat, 66, who also visits the spot three times a day, said: "The friendships we have made will be broken."

Mr Tan lives on the fourth storey of Block 121. The closest resting spot, a concrete round table, is at Block 122, but there are only four seats.

"They are very uncomfortable for the elderly. Our chairs have backrests, so they are more comfortable," said Mr Tan.

Besides residents of Block 121, patients from the nearby kidney dialysis centre and residents of Block 113 and 122 would also join them.

"This is a multiracial and inter-generational gathering spot," said Mr Tan.

Mr Peh, who lives at Block 122, said: "There are many people who used to come but have passed away. Now there are about eight regulars. It is a very close-knit community."

He said the residents who use the corner make an effort to keep the place clean.

But the chairs and benches have not always been safe.

Vandals have broken their benches on previous occasions. But one of the regulars, Mr Wang Guang Tong, 74, would always repair them.

And when teenagers take the chairs and leave them elsewhere, the regulars recover them.

Mr Tan and Mr Peh have since chained the chairs to the wall.

A town council spokesman confirmed the notice and said the obstruction at the common area is a potential fire hazard.

The spokesman said: "There will be upcoming upgrading projects, and the town council will take their needs into consideration and have proper seats in the area if necessary."

Mr Alvin Yeo, vice-chairman of the town council and Member of Parliament for Chua Chu Kang GRC, said: "If it is brought to the attention of the town council, we will look into the residents' requests very seriously."

tnp@sph.com.sg

This article was published on May 16 in The New Paper.

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