Seniors' choices should not be limited by a few naysayers

Why are some residents of Rye against housing options for seniors?

Bill Veazey

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There is a tremendous amount of confusion over two very simple subjects: aging and housing.

Aging:  Happens without benefit of small town politics or prejudiced opinions. Affects each of us differently.  Health and finances play important roles. Pressure from family and/or personal desires also enter into the equation.  

Housing:  A place to live is a necessity.  There is no such thing as “one size fits all”.  Most important is the fact that choices be available regardless of one’s particular situation.  

The original concept of Rye Senior SERVE was to provide assistance and options for Rye’s seniors.   It did not matter if they were sick or healthy, rich or poor, had 25 acres or were nestled on a small beach lot, in a nursing home or a mansion.  No, none of that mattered.   

To date much has been accomplished in the areas of van transportation, shut-in phone calls, communications and the dissemination of information, and yet, there is more to be done.

The Housing Committee of Senior SERVE worked for several years to bring the Retirement Community Development (RCD) to the voters' attention and approval.  The primary idea was to allow some seniors the possibility of ‘smalling’ down from their larger homes into a modest-sized home in a small clustered neighborhood.  The RCD amendment was not intended to be solely for "affordable" housing, with income limitations, nor solely for the wealthy.  A builder's bonus of several additional units is permitted on the site if there is an excellent design of the project and some of the units are designated as "affordable".

The Committee also looked at and promoted an assisted-living and nursing-home complex, affordable housing and accessory apartments within existing homes. And lately SERVE has discussed the ‘aging-in-place’ concept and its advantages for some.

If one steps back and looks at the overall picture of housing in Rye, in relation to its size and population, it was going in the right direction for a wide variety of reasonable housing choices to be available for seniors.  

With approximately 2,400 housing units and 5,400 residents in Rye, it is not out of line that 300 people, more or less, might need nursing or assisted type living, just as another group of 300 residents need for naught.  Similar numbers may need affordability to obtain their housing or assistance to stay in their own home.

In my opinion the tremendous benefits for Rye of the defeated Ciborowski project (sewage along Rt. 1, a commercial center, CCRC, tax revenue, conservation land, recreation facilities and secure living quarters) were all thrown away by the NIMBY naysayers.  What are the naysayers afraid of? Why are they down on choices for all senior needs?  The Town will not suffer; it will grow in stature and character.

To say that most residents of Rye, one of the richest towns in the state, could not afford to go there is false and misleading.  Some will not be able to go there - true; however that is not a valid reason to defeat the opportunity for those who wish to, any more so than voting against affordable housing just because you are not planning to live there.

Will an expanded CCRC change the character of Rye?  Yes, it will greatly improve Rye by providing opportunities to continue to live in Rye for those seniors who want or require nursing care.    

And now those same negative thinking people are working overtime to defeat the latest Webster proposal on South Road.  Their selfish attitude eludes all reasoning.  Are they completely blind to the concept that when, or if, they require, or desire that ‘choice’ of living accommodation, they will have to leave their beloved town?  They will have rejected themselves.

When that time comes, perhaps Rye will be able to move forward with a CCRC and residents who wish to, will be able to live out their lives among family, friends and neighbors in the housing of their choice.

May, 2007