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Final details of Baron's South seniors' complex taking shape

Updated 3:52 pm, Wednesday, February 26, 2014

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  • Rachel Rangelov, left, of the Watermark Retirement Communities, and Selectman Avi Kaner explain some of the amenities that will be offered at a community center building attached to the senior housing complex planned on the Baron's Sourth parcel. Photo: Anne M. Amato / Westport News
    Rachel Rangelov, left, of the Watermark Retirement Communities, and Selectman Avi Kaner explain some of the amenities that will be offered at a community center building attached to the senior housing complex planned on the Baron's Sourth parcel. Photo: Anne M. Amato

 

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A memorandum of understanding, one of the steps needed for reviews of the final plans for a seniors' residential complex on the town-owned Baron's South property, could happen "hopefully in the next month," Selectman Avi Kaner told Wednesday's meeting of the Baron's South Committee.

A 150-unit senior housing complex -- plus "memory-care units "designed for people who may have Alzheimer's disease, dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment -- are planned on several acres of the 22.7-acre site bordered by Compo Road South, Imperial Avenue and Post Road East.

According to the proposal, 30 percent of the rental units would be set aside for those whose income meets "affordable" eligibility standards, with 30 percent mid-range and 40 percent market rate.

"This administration remains fully committed to moving this process forward," said Kaner, who with First Selectman Jim Marpe was first elected last November.

"We see this as a partnership that will reflect well on the town not just now, but over the next 98 years" which is the term for the proposed contract with the development firm, said Kaner.

Kaner said officials will meet in executive session next week with the Board of Finance "to go over the financial components of negotiations" on the memorandum, which Kaner declined to disclose details of Wednesday.

"Once we do that, we may have to tweak numbers a little," he said. Once the finance board gives its approval the memorandum goes back to the selectmen for their vote, he added.

"That meeting will be open to the public," adding the full memorandum will be available to the public before then. "This will define the 98-year lease," Kaner added.

The plan will need Planning and Zoning Commission approval and final backing from the Representative Town Meeting, Kaner said. "The journey is not yet over, but it's certainly on the right track to get there," he added.

Also discussed was how other lots on the parcel would be used in the future, with "parcel number five" targeted for a school bus depot. One area would also be kept as open space that could be used as walking trails. Kaner suggested that a subcommittee be formed to look into uses and named to that group Representative Town Meeting members Matthew Mandell and Don Bergmann, who both attended the meeting. "The sooner you can do this the better," he told subcommittee members. He aid he would like to have their suggestions in the "next couple of weeks."

Amenities at the housing complex were also discussed with Rachel Rangelov of Watermark Retirement Communities explaining what would be included in a community center attached to the residential complex. Rangelov said there would be a salon, gym, swimming pool and a cafeteria that would serve breakfast and lunch. There would also be a Zumba room for exercising. "Amenities are an integral part of our operation," said Rangelov.

The center would be open not only to residents of the seniors complex, but also to town residents and would be an annex to the Westport Senior Center, which is within walking distance.

"So far we are very excited about this," said Barbara Butler, senior center director.