2015-12-04 / Front Page

Kennebunk declines AARP

Selectmen turn down grant money for senior citizen survey
By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — If a newly-formed nonprofit created to address the needs of senior citizens living in the Kennebunks and Arundel is going to survey older residents to find out what those needs are, it’ll have to do so without the help of Kennebunk selectmen.

At their Nov. 24 meeting, selectmen refused a $7,600 grant from AARP to help fund that study. Once complete, the survey would have been used by No Place Like Home, a local nonprofit founded in 2014 to help seniors “age in place” and remain vital members of their community, without having to leave their homes for rooms in an elder care living center.

Kennebunk resident Molly Hoadley, a retired family counselor, and her husband Jay Kilbourn, vice president of Casella Waste Systems, provided seed money to found the agency, which operates under the auspices of York County Community Action.

Hoadley has said she was inspired to create No Place Like Home in the wake of a workshop she attended, staged in 2013 as past of the Maine aging initiative, a project of the Maine Council on Aging. With the oldest members of the baby boom generation hitting retirement age at an increasing pace, the idea behind the council initiative was to spur creation of local groups to support an aging population.

Julie Allaire, hired to run No Place Like Home as its executive director, has said her goal is to create an age-friendly support system for seniors that crosses economic and political lines.

However, directing resources toward that goal in the best and most efficient manner means knowing what seniors need and want. The 12-page survey was set to include sections covering housing, recreational activities, public access and medical needs.

“I think it’s a good thing to accept the grant and do the survey, and see what it tells us,” Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said, noting that 30 percent of Kennebunk’s population is age 65 or older.

But Selectman Ed Karytko, though a retiree himself, took umbrage at the involvement of AARP.

“Here’s where I have a problem – AARP is a business,” he said.

Tibbetts had said the AARP grant “covers all costs associated with the survey,” and that being the case, Selectman Shiloh Schulte wondered aloud why Karytko would oppose the project.

“What is the perceived downside of it?” he asked.

But it was Selectman Richard Morin who provided the answer. “AARP has never done anything without a secondary mission that benefits them,” he said. “So why do we want to feed them?”

“I just don’t understand why we are doing this, instead of doing the basics in this town, like addressing the roads,” Karytko said. “I just don’t know what we are going to gain from it. Why is it necessary?”

Meanwhile, Selectman Deborah Beal dug out the actual memorandum, provided by Kennebunk’s economic development director, Mat Eddy, which the town would enter into upon acceptance of the AARP grant.

According to that document, AARP would not foot the entire bill. Of the $7,600 offered, $4,000 would go to an unnamed consultant, tasked with compiling and analyzing survey responses, and providing “a written narrative describing the information gathered” for No Place Like Home.

A copy of that report was to be shared with AARP. The remaining $3,600 would go toward printing and mailing the survey to some 5,000 Kennebunk addresses. However, the full cost of that work is estimated to run $12,000.

“The town will pay the remaining cost,” including the price of providing return mail envelopes, the contract reads.

“That’s a pretty big deficit,” Beal said.

“Well, thank you, because I missed that,” Karytko said. “No way am I going to vote for it now.”

His peers agreed, voting unanimously to reject the grant offer.

Chairman Kevin Donovan said it is now up to AARP and/or No Place Like Home to put a new offer on the table, if either should choose to do so.

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