“How a shared-space solution helped a New England town save money and serve residents of many ages”
“The exterior of Swampscott High School and (inset) the shared entrance sign.” – PHOTO COURTESY SYMMES MAINI & MCKEE ASSOCIATES
by Sally Abrahms, AARP Livable Communities
“The Swampscott Senior Center on Boston’s North Shore was ailing. Housed in an old Victorian house, the center had three flights of stairs and limited on-street parking. The only handicap accessible area was in the windowless basement, where the staff served lunch and offered bingo and exercise class twice a week.
“Sometimes, only two people would show up for a meal. The senior center wanted to relocate, but municipal funds and land within Swampscott’s 3.05 square miles were limited. A new, stand-alone senior center was not in the cards. Meanwhile, the town’s public schools were overcrowded. A new high school was needed.
“Fast forward to today: Swampscott, Massachusetts — population 14,000 — now has both the senior center and the high school it long needed. In fact, the two facilities share a plot of land and are essentially one, with the ground-level senior center occupying a 7,500-square-foot space that’s attached to the high school. Here’s how it happened.”