There are many excellent reasons for building senior housing on Baron's South; however, there is really only one reason that matters. It is the right thing to do.
Seniors who helped nurture and build this town into one of the country's best places to live deserve the opportunity to stay in Westport if they so choose. We have the chance to take some land which is sorely underutilized and transform peoples' lives in a positive and life-affirming manner.
Children may grow and plant roots in other communities as they stake out their own identities. The parents who built this town should have a place to call home in Westport so they can continue to pray in their same houses of worship, can still make the curtain call at the Westport Playhouse, are able to play golf or tennis on a Thursday afternoon at Longshore or rent a sailboat or kayak on a Tuesday morning, can continue to occupy their favorite bar stools at the Duck or Dunvilles, or give back on a town committee or at the nature center.
This process has taken several years. The wheels of progress have moved slowly, and as much as we would all like to say that we have fashioned the perfect answer for how best to utilize Baron's South, there is no perfect answer. But here is a chance to really make a difference in people's lives and to keep the heart and soul of Westport in Westport. Here is a chance to take land that is at best very difficult to develop and transform it into a place where seniors will continue to grow and thrive and where members of the senior center can find better and greater choices to exercise, learn and socialize.
If not now, when? If not senior housing, what? Keep it as a park that no one uses and which costs the town more than $100,000 to maintain? Sell it to a real estate developer to build luxury homes? It is time to say yes to something that is good for Westport, good for our tax base, good for our economic vibrancy, good for creating jobs and, oh yes, is also the right thing to do.
On June 19, the Planning and Zoning Commission will meet to review the proposed text amendment that would facilitate senior housing on Baron's South. I would greatly encourage all residents to attend this meeting at 7 p.m. in the town hall auditorium.
Rick J. Weber
RTM Member, District 9