Contact: Ellen Ceppetelli (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Nedra Sahr (email@example.com)
Joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities: 2018-02-05
Structure: Town appointed all-volunteer
Highlight of 2023: The public spaces domain became the predominant focus of the committee’s work in the past year. By installing benches at local public places, AIP has encouraged all residents to enjoy nature, socialize, and be active members of the Eliot landscape. Central to The Benches Project has been the installation of five at the Eliot Boat Basin (AARP 2020 Challenge Grant) and two at the William Fogg Library (Maine Community Fund grant). The work continues to secure the benches. AIP enhanced the Eliot Boat Basin landscape by planting and tending perennial flowers. AIP has collaborated with Public Works and Community Services departments on this project. Resident volunteers continue to help ensure the success of the public benches and accompanying landscaping.
Eliot Aging in Place's Initiatives and Accomplishments:
Communication and Information
AIP created its Facebook group page and Instagram account in May 2021. “Eliot Aging In Place Committee” Facebook page has 285 followers. AIP Instagram account has 66 followers.
AIP began distribution of its monthly e-newsletter in September 2021. The monthly newsletter is now emailed to 256 followers and mailed directly to 26 residents. The William Fogg Library prints and distributes additional copies. Hard-copies are delivered to four locations.
AIP has grown its inclusion on the Town website to serve as a communication home for people to find AIP newsletters and information that ranges from health and wellness news to resources for food, heating, and property tax relief. Posted information is provided from our partners which include the William Fogg Library, Town of Eliot, Eliot Strong, Eliot Connects, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Maine Center on Aging, and AARP.
AIP’s proposal for an Eliot Senior Taxpayer Assistance Program was passed by town voters in June 2020 for implementation on July,1 2021. In FY22, the town voters approved $20,000, and six households were granted a total of $3,481. In FY23, $13,391 was approved for 16 of the 29 applicants.
Feedback from the AIP community assessment survey and residents’ comments at two public meetings revealed that the 650 square footage allowance for ADUs was a barrier to residents considering this option for downsizing. AIP collaborated with the Eliot Planning Commission in the revision of the ADU town ordinance. The revised ordinance increased the square footage allowance to 1000 square feet.
Outdoor Spaces and Public Buildings
By installing benches at local public places, AIP has encouraged all residents to enjoy nature, socialize, and be active members of the Eliot landscape. Central to Project has been the installation of five at the Eliot Boat Basin (AARP 2020 Challenge Grant) and two at the William Fogg Library (Maine Community Fund grant).
AIP enhanced the Eliot Boat Basin landscape by planting and tending perennial flowers. AIP has collaborated with Public Works and Community Services departments on this project. Resident volunteers continue to help ensure the success of the public benches and accompanying landscaping.
Eliot residents who regularly play pickleball attended several AIP meetings to share concerns about the pickleball facilities at Frost Tufts Park. The key issues were the current condition of the tennis courts where pickleball is played and lack of courts to accommodate the increasing number of interested residents. AIP recognized this concern as an opportunity to improve outdoor spaces, increase socialization, and promote exercise for all. AIP members met with the new town manager and town planner to relay these concerns. The outcome has been the allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to improve Frost Tufts Park that would enhance basketball, tennis, and pickleball facilities.
Respect and Social Inclusion
To further involve residents in celebrating the benches, AIP held “The Benches Writing Contest” which invited Eliot residents aged 8-108 to submit a poem, short story, or essay on what the new benches meant to them. Winners in five age categories received award certificates and Barnes & Noble gift cards and were announced at the 2021 Eliot Fall Festival. For residents under the age of eight, there was a “New Benches in My Town!” coloring page for them to complete and have posted at the AIP Eliot Fall Festival booth.
Social isolation, not identified as a problem in AIP community assessment, became one during the Covid pandemic. AIP received significant funds and consultation support from the Foundation for Arts and Healing (FAH) to be a part of its pilot project to help older adults manage a variety of age-related challenges and to reduce the levels of social isolation and loneliness. The positive feedback from all participants strongly influenced AIP’s decision to offer its own version of this project once the pilot has ended. An AIP volunteer now facilitates this six-week Zoom-based group. There is no charge to participants and they receive art supplies for use in the creative arts expression component of this program from AIP at no cost.
Transportation (including promotion of active transportation)
Since its inception, AIP has advocated for safer walking and biking in Eliot. Residents of all ages enjoy walking and biking as an easy way to get out and exercise. AIP enthusiastically collaborated with Town Planner Jeff Brubaker in his extensive work to identify improvement opportunities to make these activities safer. His comprehensive report, “Improving Conditions for People to Walk and Bike in Eliot” has been approved by the Town and serves as the basis for proposed changes in mobility and safety. The Town approved $200,000 in American Rescue Funds to begin implementation. Top priorities are extending sidewalks down State Road, Eliot’s “main” street, and installing new sidewalks on Beech Road.