GUILDERLAND — The town will continue looking into the possible rise of an 18-building intergenerational community development on Mercy Care Lane off Route 20 near the public library, after its planning board agreed to table the project discussion in their Feb. 27 meeting.
The $22 million project was proposed by Boston-based Beacon Communities LLC in partnership with Northern Rivers Family of Services and Center for Disability Services. According to town documents, the 10.7-acre development would contain 65 rental homes, including 52 senior living units and 13 multi-generational units — there will be two driveways from Mercy Care Lane to access the community. It would also feature two housing styles: single-story cottage homes and two-story townhomes.
Its purpose is unique in crafting a community for senior citizens, families who are adopting foster children, and young adults who are intellectually and developmentally disabled. Among the amenities it hopes to offer include intergenerational socializing events, a library, community gardening, a clubhouse, a playground, a commercial kitchen, laundry facilities and a computer lab. Senior citizens, who do not require assistance, would be able to engage with the foster children and their families in various social activities, which, in turn, helps the seniors themselves who may be craving a connection since they may feel alone or live far from their own families. The community would also include some housing for young adults with disabilities who can live mostly independently, albeit with some support.
Beacon Communities development president Duncan Barrett, who appeared before the planning board, said that his firm already operates a similar development called the Treehouse in Easthampton Meadows, Massachusetts for 13 years now “and the outcomes for the children who were formerly in foster care have been extraordinary as compared to the outcomes for most children in foster care in this state.” Adding that the Massachusetts project has been “successful,” he explained that his firm undertook this proposed Guilderland project after the New York State Office of Children and Family Services requested it to try to set an example of an intergenerational community in this state.
During the planning board meeting, numerous residents
came up to voice their concerns of the project, often saying that the project would invite too much vehicular traffic, be physically too close to existing residential property, and hurt the local natural environment. While they generally supported the project’s intergenerational community purpose, they requested for the developer to at least edit the project’s site plan or heed their comments.
The project application was then tabled by the planning board until the developer can return again with potential adjustments to their site plan. Also, Guilderland is not the only one though to make any final decision-making as the project will be reviewed by the Albany County Planning Board, Army Corps of Engineers, and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in the near future too.