Letter: Senior complex plan is a win-win for town — vote yes

Posted 10/11/21

To the editor:

I am a long-time member and currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Portsmouth Senior Center. For over 40 years the center, with strong support from the Town of Portsmouth, …

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Letter: Senior complex plan is a win-win for town — vote yes

Posted

To the editor:

I am a long-time member and currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Portsmouth Senior Center. For over 40 years the center, with strong support from the Town of Portsmouth, has served the many needs of local seniors and continues to do so albeit with considerably less space due to a large portion of our facility being condemned for fire safety considerations. The remainder of the building, the former Anne Hutchinson School, is also badly in need of restoration. 

Another problem faced by the Town of Portsmouth is the increased cost of living here. The median cost for a one-family home in Portsmouth is $545,000. The State of Rhode Island encourages the town to take steps to provide low-cost housing particularly for seniors, most of whom are retired on fixed incomes.

Like all communities, Portsmouth needs ever-increasing funds, i.e. taxes, to support the needs of the community, schools, fire and police protection, highway maintenance, parks and playgrounds, etc.

Enter now the Church Community Housing Center (CCHC), an organization whose mission is to provide low-cost housing to the community. They typically do this by rehabilitating old facilities that are no longer in service and modifying them for useful housing or as in this case by new construction. Examples of their work are The Mumford School in Newport, Lucy’s Hearth in Middletown, Anthony House in Portsmouth and Sandywoods in Tiverton.

CCHC proposes to build a three-story building on the Anne Hutchinson property, the top two floors of which would contain 50 to 52 low-cost senior housing units which they would rent. On the first floor would be modern spaces equal or larger in total area to that formerly occupied by our senior center. The senior housing occupants would share much of the spaces in common with those of the senior center all under the management of the present senior center personnel. CCHC would assume responsibility for the maintenance of the grounds and the facility, and utility costs, a saving to the town and the senior center. A major financial consideration to the town will be that the housing portion of the facility will be taxable.

I believe at this time I should correct a serious error expressed in two letters in last week’s Portsmouth Times. Both letters indicated that the town would have to pay approximately $600,000 for space to be occupied by paid staff of the senior center and its thrift shop, storage  and bathroom facilities. This is not the case. CCHC is arranging for a grant to cover this cost. The Town of Portsmouth will not be required to pay anything for the proposed facility and will as stated earlier benefit from an increase in taxable property

In addition, CCHC is proposing to save the historic, 100-year old, four-room Anne Hutchinson School exterior and convert its interior to market value condominiums, also adding to the town’s tax role. The 50-year old addition to the original building will be demolished as it has been determined beyond salvageable.

Clearly this is a win-win-win situation — a new modern senior center, low-cost senior housing, and addition to the town’s taxable properties.

Please vote “Yes” to the Nov. 2 special referendum allowing this project to proceed.

John F. Brady

206 Immokolee Drive

Portsmouth

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