A number of people came to The Pines Thursday to celebrate the remodeling of Oceanwood Manor and take a tour of the facility. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

A number of people came to The Pines Thursday to celebrate the remodeling of Oceanwood Manor and take a tour of the facility. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — In the summer of 1969, a group of teenagers from the New England Baptist Council did some research for a mission project and discovered that many seniors on limited income were paying two-thirds or more of their income on housing. 

Church officials worked with The Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop a vision of affordable senior housing in Ocean Park, and in 1972, Oceanview Manor, with about 60 garden-style senior apartments were opened on Manor Street.

In 1981, Pinewood Manor opened a neighboring high-rise building with an additional 50 affordable senior apartments. Together, the two housing units make up The Pines.

In 2007, staff and board members at The Pines embarked on a plan to remodel the facility. 

According to town documents, Oceanview Manor had to change its status from non-profit to for profit in order to qualify for grant money awarded through the Maine State Housing Authority to refurbish the garden-style apartments. The town authorized a Tax Increment Financing District so that The Pines could get back a portion of its tax dollars to the town. Previously, The Pines voluntarily paid the town $3,000 a year in liu of taxes. A for profit entity was established and the apartments that were part of Oceanview Manor were renamed The Pines at Ocean Park.

A year and a half ago, work began on remodeling the garden-style apartments, and Thursday, officials gathered to celebrate the newly refurbished The Pines at Ocean Park. 

The units had been torn down “to the studs” said Elisabeth Herald, executive director of The Pines, and residents were moved around to other apartments while units were remodeled. She said pipes were originally located underneath cement slabs below the units, and the apartments needed some updates. She said the units, most of which are about 525 square feet, are now more energy efficient, and have features such as floor-level showers with built in seats. 

The 60 apartments of The Pines at Ocean Park are spread over 14 buildings. Units have front and back doors and small sitting areas outside.

Thanks to residents, plants that were in place before the construction project were saved and moved and are still flourishing, and add to the park like setting of The Pines.

Now that construction on The Pines at Ocean Park has been completed, officials are working toward remodeling the Pinewood Manor building. 

Residents at The Pines must be at least 62 years of age or have a documented disability, said Herald. Most of the apartments are Section 8 housing, and residents pay rent according to income level. Herald said there is a waiting list to get in.

 The complex, in a quiet area surrounded by trees and across the street from a horse pasture, yet is on the public bus line and in close proximity to the beach.

“It’s so beautiful,” said resident Alice Hughes. She said the improvements to the complex and the care the management takes of it makes her proud to live there. 

Town Manager Larry Mead said the town was glad to to partner with The Pines and do some “shuffling of paperwork” so it could get grant funding. 

Mead said he was a big proponent of seniors “aging in place” and having the ability to continue to live in the communities which they love near people they know.

“I am thrilled and so impressed with this renovation,” said Bonnie Pothier, York County representative for U.S. Senator Angus King’s office. She said the renovations marked the culmination of dedication and commitment by the community, board and staff to provide a beautiful living space for the residents. 

She quoted Atul Gawande’s book, “Being Mortal,” stating, “Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.” She said the housing represented an example to provide a good life to people who worked hard and may need a little extra support in their twilight years.

Pothier said Maine is the oldest state in the country, and top concerns of those who want to age in place are safe affordable housing, transportation, health care and isolation.

“For those who wonder where do my tax dollars go, what good is government anyway, this is an example of where your tax dollars are spent and what is good, indeed best about government,” she said.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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