In June 2002, the Rye Planning Board presented the results of the comprehensive town-wide survey which addressed the vision of a future Rye as seen by its citizens. Our growing senior population defined some of their needs. In particular, seniors mentioned the lack of transportation, communication and elderly housing. As a result, two committees were formed:
The Senior Issues Committee--targeting transportation and communication
The Land Use Committee--focusing on a plan for the town center and a study of senior housing proposals
Over the next two years both groups met regularly. Senior Issues began weekly shopping trips to Market Basket, Brooks Pharmacy, and the Bank of New Hampshire. This was done with the help of Webster At Rye which loaned its van and later donated it. In addition, this group started a Daily Call Program, a no-cost reassurance telephone contact for seniors who live alone. Calls are seven days a week before 10 a.m. Senior Resource books, with much useful information about services across the seacoast, have been placed in the library and town hall. An info-line has been established at Rye Library (964-8401); if you have any questions about Senior SERVE, call the library. You will be directed to a Senior SERVE member who will assist you.
The Land Use Committee has been productive also. The committee developed and gave the Planning Board a vision for the town center which is intended for inclusion in the upcoming master plan revision. In addition, the committee prepared an extensive report which includes proposed zoning and site plan regulations on Retirement Community Development (RCD). This too was sent to the Visioning Committee.
In 2004 the two groups merged and incorporated to form Rye Senior SERVE , a non-profit organization "dedicated to identifying and responding to community needs that maximize the quality of life for our senior citizens"--Serving Elder Residents through Volunteer Efforts.
The SERVE committees continue to reach out to the elderly population. The Tuesday shopping group has made more than 600 trips. The old van (l987) has served us well despite its limitations. At the present time, however, we are looking for funds to upgrade to a more reliable vehicle with easier access, allowing for longer trips and fewer repairs. The communications group recently published its first online issue of Rye Reflections. We plan a monthly edition. Log on! It's good reading. The Rye Library has a printed copy also.
The Housing Committee of Rye Senior SERVE is encouraged by the March vote, Article 20:
"to see if the Town will vote to encourage town officials to work towards the objective of having a Senior Housing Community built in Rye." (Yes 663; No 291)
Members of the committee have visited many elderly housing developments in the seacoast area, including Exeter, Stratham, Hampton, Kittery, Kingston and Durham. They traveled to Pembrode and Deerfield as well. They have looked to identify available sites in Rye. They have met with possible developers. And now, they look ahead to working with the town and the voters to provide flexibility of zoning regulations in order to provide construction of small residential neighborhoods. This will meet the unique needs of our elderly neighbors.
Senior SERVE has monthly meetings which are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Rye Library at 3:30 p.m. You are most welcome to attend.
(Margaret Carroll is president of Rye Senior SERVE)
July 7, 2005
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