A proposal to develop affordable senior housing at the edge of Royal River Park in Yarmouth has sparked opposition by open-space advocates and led proponents to delay making a presentation to town officials.

Yarmouth Senior Housing hopes to build a 30-unit apartment complex on two acres of town-owned land on Mill Street. The parcel is just off Main Street, in a grassy and shrubby area at the park’s edge, near the Rowe School and the Yarmouth Crossing commercial plaza.

The private nonprofit agency, which built the Bartlett Circle apartments in the 1970s, had planned to present its proposal to the Town Council tonight. The agency hopes the council will donate the land for the estimated $5 million project.

However, faced with a packed council agenda and early opposition to the project’s proposed location, agency officials have postponed their presentation to Nov. 17.

“A lot of questions and concerns are being raised by the community,” said Town Manager Nat Tupper. “I don’t think you’ll find many people who are opposed to providing affordable housing for seniors, but there are some who don’t want to give up any portion of the park.”

Tupper and other town officials have received emails from several residents who squarely oppose building senior housing next to the park.

“Why would the town even consider putting a development of any kind on or this close to Royal River Park?” Jeanne Rapone of Hillside Street wrote to the council. “I can’t believe that there isn’t another alternative in our town for senior housing. Have we really done the work and considered every other possibility for this neighborhood?”

At least one resident thinks the project is a great idea and urged councilors to resist being swayed by “hyper anti-development” sentiment.

“The proposed project can be a real positive for the town,” wrote Matt Teare, also of Hillside Street. “If designed properly, it can complement Mill Street, Yarmouth Crossing and the park. It can bring much needed life and activity and community to the village center. It is a tiny investment in our lower-income seniors when we spend millions and millions annually on our children’s education and recreation facilities.”

Yarmouth Senior Housing first presented its plan to interested residents Oct. 12 at the Bartlett Circle Community Building. More than a dozen people attended, some of whom raised concerns about the project’s size, location and landscaping.

“We got some really good input and we’re taking it very seriously,” said Margaret Downing, president of Yarmouth Senior Housing.

Some people have recommended other sites, which Downing is checking out, and she hopes to hear more suggestions.

“If people have other suggested locations in the village, we will be very receptive,” Downing said. “Yarmouth Senior Housing really isn’t interested in isolated locations because about half of our tenants don’t drive and we want to integrate seniors into the village.”

The project’s goals jibe with the town’s comprehensive plan, which calls for additional senior housing, affordable housing and in-fill housing in the downtown area, Tupper said.

The agency zeroed in on the Mill Street parcel as an ideal location because tenants could easily walk to shops, the public library and other community centers, Downing said. The agency typically has a waiting list of 15 to 20 seniors who are interested in living at Bartlett Circle.

When the council meets at 7 tonight at the Log Cabin on Main Street, it will consider controversial proposals to complete the Beth Condon Memorial Pathway along Route 1 and to lease Winslow Station on Center Street to a community arts group.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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