Letter: Need To Approve ‘The Oenoke’ Senior Housing

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As a senior who is turning 80 this year and running out of time trying to find a CCRC type accommodation in New Canaan, which has been my home for the past 46 years, I want to make a strong plea to P&Z and the community at large to finally come to terms with the dire need of seniors to have a place to live out their final years in the town that they love. 

This model of the proposed Oenoke Ridge senior independent living facility is on the lower level of Town Hall, outside Land Use. Credit: Michael Dinan

Staying Put has been a blessing to many seniors, but there comes a time when it cannot meet all the needs of the aging population here. Many of us are leaving New Canaan for that reason, as the needs of our next stage of life are not adequately met here. Staying in one’s own home at an advanced age, even for those lucky enough to have children nearby, is extremely challenging, as I experienced with my own mother who spent the last 14 years of her life here. Both my children live in Colorado, which makes it even more difficult for me to stay in my own home as they are urging me to move to them. I am not anxious to do this because my activities and friends are here (those that still remain), I want to keep enjoying my trips into New York, walk to the train, be close to my medical teams—in short, be surrounded by that which is familiar and comfortable. My children in Colorado, for their part, will be happy to know that I would not be overly dependent on them and would have access to the finest care and support from the various facilities and services of the Waveny Care system. 

Much of the negativity expressed toward the Oenoke senior project is colored by NIMBY. Is it sizable? For sure, but so is the need and this project only scratches the surface of addressing the need. The proposed building on Oenoke would join several other very large nearby structures already there, St. Marks and the Presbyterian Church, and please do not disregard the Heritage Hill condo complex whose residents are opposing the Oenoke project and whose lights shining at night are not considered to resemble a giant cruise ship! Seems these structures aren’t felt to negatively affect the character of the town, as they are up a hill and around a corner from the ‘village’ and our minds have become accustomed to seeing them as the lovely, useful structures they are. What does negatively affect the “character” of New Canaan is the loss of our seniors. The Merritt Village complex, one block from the center of town, received considerable opposition but P&Z, after thoughtful deliberation, approved it with “conditions.” I suggest P&Z apply similar appropriate and thoughtful provisions as it approves this proposal.

I am one of a number of seniors who have already made a deposit to show that we are supportive of this project and ready to make the move. There is no doubt in my mind that the project will be fully subscribed to once approval for construction is given. Let’s please get it done! Without it the work/wisdom/wealth or time/treasure/talent of our seniors will be sorely missed by this community, sadly me among them.

4 thoughts on “Letter: Need To Approve ‘The Oenoke’ Senior Housing

  1. Hear, Hear….I too am getting on in years and feel that the town is pushing us out for the sake of the millenniums – also will become seniors. Why kick out the people who have built this town?

  2. Great letter, Gisela.  The proposed location behind the Historical Society and adjacent to the NC Inn is a terrific proposal.  Our town needs this so badly!  Residents would be close enough in proximity to walk into town. I’ve been here since ‘91 and have been meeting many seniors. The contributions they make to our town are infinite and when one is compelled to leave because of their living situation and lack of the next alternative, it is our whole community’s loss.  It is really important we accommodate them to be able to live out their lives comfortably in this place – their home – surrounded by the activities they know and friend base they’ve developed over their lifetimes. I agree that if P&Z was able to come up with a plan to accommodate the Merritt Village, they can certainly work to plan a way to make this senior housing work. It is a community need – one that touches us all. I hope supporters will make their voices known. There are so many who’ve remained quiet. speak up!

  3. Thank you, Gisela, for making the case for the urgent need for senior housing in New Canaan. In the 40 years I have lived here, there have been at least 4 proposals for senior housing — the time to act is now.

  4. Excellent letter! I totally agree with the above replies also. I suggest that New Canaan residents look closely at the model which is in Town Hall. The size and scope of the project do not seem to be out of scale with the area. There are many acres of open space around it. It is time to face this issue and do something about it!

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