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Thursday, September 18, 2014

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Letter: Limit Pine Tree units to seniors, disabled

Updated 10:01 am, Friday, April 25, 2014
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I am writing about a recent article about demolishing the Pine Tree Lane apartments for senior citizens and replacing the units with a larger housing complex with more spacious units ("Plans filed to replace Pine Tree complex," April 11). According to the article, the new apartments would not be restricted to senior residents.

I was told by Mark Barnhart, director of community and economic development, that the units at Pine Tree Lane are functionally obsolete and beyond their serviceable life, and have been cash-flow negative for many years. Consequently, the Fairfield Housing Authority is seeking funding to redevelop the property. The FHA has commitments to the existing senior and disabled tenants and plans to accommodate them in new units. But additional new units would be open to anyone, who meets income guidelines, regardless of age and whether disabled or not.

While I applaud the FHA for trying to develop this housing to meet the needs of the elderly/disabled, I strongly oppose removing the requirement that the housing be restricted to senior residents.

The first wave of baby boomers -- those born between in 1946 -- made it to age 65 in 2011. Now, a person turns 65 every 10 seconds. By 2030, the number of persons 65 and older will reach 71.5 million. Many in this enormous human wave will need affordable living options once they stop working.

In November 2012, First Selectman Tetreau said he would like to see more senior-friendly housing developed in town. So why is the FHA willing to open a current senior-restricted development to anyone who meets income requirements?

Fairfield already has numerous affordable housing plans in the works, including Fairchild Avenue, Berwick Court, Fairfield Metro, Campfield Drive, Bronson Road, Brick Walk, etc. Also, the Fairfield Motor Inn is on the market and could be purchased for low-income housing rather than redeveloping/rebranding current senior housing.

If the senior restriction is removed from the Pine Tree Lane development, there is a strong likelihood that families with children would move in. This would only add to the student population at McKinley School and exacerbate the current racial imbalance at McKinley School.

If the Pine Tree Lane housing is going to be redeveloped, please keep it an age-restricted housing unit.

Patty Mihaylo

Fairfield