A new plan for Edgerton: Senior affordable housing
Last week Republican First Selectman Dave Campbell announced preliminary plans to construct 20 units of senior affordable housing at the current Senior Center site on Edgerton Street.
"The plan includes razing the senior center," Campbell said. "It's really preliminary at this point. All I have is a piece of paper with some site plans, and a basic plan of an idea of what a senior housing bungalow would look like."
His plans, first reported at DarienNewsOnline.com, include 20 806-square-foot bungalows.
"Bungalows would be a less intense use of the property and less intense use for the neighborhood," he said. "That property is terraced, and is fairly steep sloping, and [bungalows] would fit in really nicely on that property, and would not detract from the neighborhood in any way."
According to his preliminary plans, "[t]he bungalows would be one story with a little living room and a kitchen with a small eating area off it, and one bathroom, one bedroom and a small study area with a little front porch," he said.
"It's just some ideas I've been knocking around with," he said. "If I was going to give up housing at the old library, I wanted to come up with some solution for senior housing elsewhere in town. And the old senior center site doesn't lend itself for playing fields, but it does lend itself well for this type of housing. It would be very low-impact on the Edgerton area."
Though this new plan was not officially on the agenda at Monday night's Board of Selectman meeting, it did make its way into the discussion several times.
"While I am disappointed that tonight we are abandoning a plan that is feasible, fundable and realistic for 21 owner-occupied units of affordable housing in downtown Darien at the 35 Leroy site, and thereby giving up a `bird in the hand' in our struggle against 8-30g, I am glad that the First Selectman and his majority on this Board recognize the need to continue working on the affordable housing issue and I look forward to working with them on this issue in the future," Bayne said.
Earlier in the meeting, Republican Selectman Jayme Stevenson, who also served as chairwoman of the Facilities Study Task Force presented the task force's formal recommendations to the BOS. She reported that the task force unanimously decided that the current senior center facility does not lend itself to renovation and should not be considered as a possible location for the senior center moving forward.
Additionally, she told the Board the task force "believes that moving the senior center to 2 Renshaw Road in conjunction with moving the Board of Education to 35 Leroy Ave. (Scenario 1) and moving the senior center to 35 Leroy Ave. (Scenario 2) are both feasible options that deserve further study."
On the topic of the new senior affordable housing idea, she "was very heartened to learn about Dave's ideas for the Edgerton property," she said.
"I think Dave has come up with an interesting idea for the utilization of that parcel of land, which directly addresses affordable housing needs for seniors of Darien," Stevenson said.
While the plan, which Campbell said is "very preliminary" currently includes 20 units, he said it could be stretched up to 25 or 26 without overtaxing the land. With 20 roughly 800-square-foot bungalows, the amount of impervious surface at the Edgerton site would remain at approximately 16,000 square feet, he said.
"This is out of the box thinking, but it's what I'm here for," Campbell said Monday night. "We can look for new ways to do things."
In his "new way," Campbell proposes privately funding the project by the people of Darien, possibly through a 501(c)(3) that would be unaffiliated with the town.
"They would be based on the Clock Hill model, and there would be deed restrictions on them for appreciation value, and they'd be paying taxes to the town and land rent to the town," he said. Priority for placement in the community would be based on income as well as the number of years seniors have lived in town, Campbell said.
Darienites in attendance at Monday's meeting had differing views on the project as it relates to the Affordable Housing Plan.
Flora Smith, a member of the RTM from District I, said she is "overjoyed" by the proposed project.
But Mark Thorne, who also serves on the RTM, said he is "appalled at the direction the town has taken."
Bayne asked that discussion about the plans be added to the agenda for an upcoming meeting, which Campbell agreed would be helpful.