TOPSHAM — Aided by nearly $5,000 in grant funding, the town plans to launch a survey to learn how it can better serve its oldest residents.
The town received confirmation recently that its request for a more than $4,700 “Age Friendly Community” grant from the American Association of Retired Persons had been approved. In the Nov. 23 application, the town noted that as of the 2010 census, about 1,600 of its nearly 8,800 residents are 65 or older.
The funding will largely pay for a consultant, who will aid the town – in partnership with Spectrum Generations – in conducting the survey, workshops, an analysis of survey results, and reporting, according to the application.
The funds are “important to expand the amount of valuable information that is able to be collected and reported,” the document says.
Carol Eyerman, Topsham’s assistant planner, said in an interview Dec. 28 that the town hopes to gain “a sense of where we’re at with services” for seniors, noting that it has yet to be decided whether it will be residents 55 and older, or a higher age bracket, that will be polled.
The town plans to issue a request for proposals, hire a consultant and hold an initial meeting with the consultant in January. The survey will be mailed, and responses assessed, in March, with focus groups and workshops to follow in April, and a report to be finalized in June.
The survey should also be available on the town’s website, topshammaine.com, Eyerman said. The responses will be entered into an online database to better facilitate their assessment.
Planning staff will contribute at least one or two hours a week to the project, at a cost of about $2,060, according to the grant application.
Once completed, the report is to be presented to the Board of Selectmen, Eyerman said. It will most likely posted on the town website, she said, since “this is a comprehensive survey we’re doing, and it’s the first one of its type.”