At the November 19th Planning & Zoning Commission hearing, one of the opponents to the proposed Waveny CCRC said that the mammoth, 550-foot-long, four-story-high building would dominate the crest of Oenoke Ridge at night like a giant lit-up cruise ship. Although a couple dozen people have written letters and testified before the P&Z in support of the senior facility, the opposition of the 164 residents of the Heritage Hill Condominiums, the 500 families of St. Mark’s Church, the neighbors on Oenoke Lane, and the more than 1,400 people who have signed a petition in opposition to the Waveny CCRC at 65 Oenoke, cannot be ignored.
Hopefully the very sound legal arguments against permitting the CCRC as presented by counsel for St. Mark’s, the Oenoke Association, and the neighbors on Oenoke, together with the significant citizen opposition, will result in this unwelcome ship being sunk by the P&Z Commission.
Nobody is against the construction of a senior residence in New Canaan, the problem is where.
The Waveny Board claims they have looked at all alternative possible sites and have ruled them out as not suitable or too expensive. I suggest that the Town and Waveny Life Care consider the following sites, even if some have been previously evaluated:
- the 3.5 acre lot at the intersection of Elm and Weed;
- the New Canaan Medical Group property next to the Millport Apartments;
- the brick factory building sites on Pine Street and adjacent properties on Richmond Hill;
- the Center School parking lot (parking to be replaced with below ground decked parking in the Park Street lot;
- on top of a two-level underground parking structure at the Lumberyard Parking lot;
- the woodland below the road to the Waveny Community Center, between the Waveny Care Center and Old Stamford Road;
- the woodland (former site of the Waveny Estate stables) above the Talmadge Hill Railroad Station; and
- the 23-acre Clark Property.
The “Leaf Mulch” site on the west side of Lapham Road is simply not appropriate as it would remove the western forest buffer the makes Waveny Park so special and forever change the exhilarating vista from Waveny Castle.
The Proposed CCRC on Oenoke Ridge will serve only 70 of the most affluent families who can afford the $750,000 to $850,000 buy-in and $4,500/month maintenance fee. This is not the solution to elderly housing needs in a town of 20,000.
Market rates will have to be paid for private land, which is a barrier for not-for-profits like Waveny. Expensive elder care housing will ultimately be constructed in New Canaan by for-profit developers as the demand of wealthy residents is strong and growing. However, by constructing a senior residence on Town-owned land, “affordable” units could be included in a college campus-like complex with plenty of open space.
The town should consider inviting for-profit and not-for-profit senior life care organizations, in addition to the Waveny LifeCare Network, to submit proposals for development of a senior residential center on town-owned land. As a stimulus to participate, the Town could structure a transaction whereby the developer pays no up-front land acquisition fee, but enters into a 99 year lease with at-market annual rental payments. The lease income could be dedicated to the Town’s social services budget.