June 3, 2016
By Ralph Morang
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine – The Young Street Apartments Affordable Senior Housing officially opened Friday.
Avesta Housing President and CEO Dana Totman introduced special guests NeighborWorks America President and CEO Paul Weech, Maine House Speaker Mark Eves, Town Manager Perry Ellsworth and building resident Ellen Lindsey.
Avesta is a nonprofit affordable housing provider based in Portland. Totman said Avesta has 10 projects under way with 300 apartments. “We should be building 10 times that,” he said referring to demand for affordable housing.
Totman spoke of the collaboration between funders, the town and the state in constructing the Young Street project. “Twenty-eight seniors now have safe, decent and affordable housing.”
Totman thanked Eves for his support of senior housing. Eves said Ellsworth's leadership and vision meeting the needs of the community are examples for the entire state.
“Housing is identified as a premier need for seniors,” said Eves, who touted the apartments' location near the town center and elementary school. He mentioned the proximity to coffee shops and a tattoo parlor.
NeighborWorks America is a congressionally chartered nonprofit that supports community development in the United States and Puerto Rico. Weech said Avesta is a shining example of groups that give people and communities opportunities.
“I am a huge fan of Avesta,” Weech said.
Ellsworth said when he first came to South Berwick, the new library was his first challenge. The town had purchased the former St. Michael’s Church in 2010 and the library moved in 2012. With the moving of the former church rectory, plans for senior housing went ahead.
“It was a collaborative effort that was second to none,” he said of work that included solving zoning and parking problems. “Working together is the only way to make things happen."
Young Street Apartments resident Ellen Lindsey said she applied for an apartment sight unseen while living first with a daughter in Eliot and another in Florida. She said her apartment is light and airy, and she feels safe and secure. She likes the sense of community.
“I don’t know about the tattoo parlor,” she joked. “I’ll have to check that out.”
State Reps. Deane Rykerson, D-Kittery, Roberta Beavers, D-South Berwick, and Patricia Hymanson, D-York, attended the opening ceremony, which included tours of a couple of the apartments.
Seth Gabarro, director of telehealth at York Hospital, demonstrated Telemedicine in the wellness room. Through a secure video connection, patients can speak with a doctor at York Hospital. Gabarro said diagnostic peripherals will soon be connected to the system.