Topsham to issue senior survey report in June

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TOPSHAM — A report reflecting the results of a survey to learn how the town can better serve its oldest residents could be posted online and go to the Board of Selectmen next month.

Input gleaned from the questionnaire and related workshops is expected to be worked into Topsham’s Comprehensive Plan update, due this year, Assistant Planner Carol Eyerman said Tuesday in an interview.

The town has conducted the survey in recent months with help from an “Age Friendly Community” grant of around $4,700 from the American Association of Retired Persons. The funding pays for a consultant, who will help the town – in conjunction with Spectrum Generations – conduct the survey, hold workshops, compile an analysis of survey results, and reporting.

As of the 2010 census, about 1,600 of Topsham’s nearly 8,800 residents were 65 or older, according to the town. Of about 1,100 surveys to reach residents 50 and older, more than 300 were returned, Eyerman said.

A preliminary look at the results showed a greater need for transportation for seniors who have difficulty driving. Affordable senior housing, as well as improved trail and sidewalk conditions, were also frequently mentioned, according to Eyerman.

“Generally speaking we’re doing pretty good … which was a good takeaway,” she noted.

A final draft based on the survey and focus groups – sort of a master plan for making Topsham a more “age-friendly” community – should be complete around June 1, posted at topshammaine.com, and presented to the Board of Selectmen June 16. 

“We’d like to … roll this in some form into the Comprehensive Plan (update) that we’re going to be doing over the next two years,” Eyerman said. “… We want to add it into the Comprehensive Plan so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.