” ROCKPORT ” Beyond Pigeon Cove Ledges’ new elevator, and out the now
disabled-accessible door to the backyard, music from a jazz saxophone mingles
with a bass and guitars, emerging from an event tent alongside the building.
While waiters skillfully balancing trays of chocolates shuffle past elderly folks, one white-haired woman pauses in the threshold to thank Andrew DeFranza, not just for holding the door open, but for making the party happen, and more importantly, the renovations
residents are celebrating.
Pigeon Cove Ledge’s nonprofit owner, Harborlight Community Partners, under executive
director DeFranza, funded and planned the building’s renovation, which was widely lauded at a party Friday afternoon.
The project, an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 worth of changes, added the 30-unit two-story building’s first elevator, created a wheelchair-accessible rear patio door, and tackled safety projects, like adding a sprinkler system.
Bud Curtis sat at a table decorated with gourds and mums Friday under the white tent, eating a lobster roll. The 12-year resident of the senior housing complex said the changes at Pigeon Cove Ledges were already making a big difference in everyday life.
“They’ve just upgraded the whole place. It’s wonderful, Curtis said.
Curtis was one of the 27 residents who signed a public thank-you letter, published in the Times, expressing appreciation to the town of Rockport for applying Community Preservation Act funds that allowed Harborlight to acquire the complex last winter. At September’s Fall Town Meeting, residents voted to apply Community Preservation Act funds to another affordable elderly housing project to be purchased and renovated by Harborlight ” the Rockport High School Apartments on Broadway.
Harborlight planned the renovations on Pigeon Cove Ledges, which began in June, in a way to avoid infringing upon the residents’ lives. The elevator, for example, was built from the outside of the building.
DeFranza said the elevator gave those unable to climb stairs access to the library and computer room upstairs for the first time, as well as expanded the number of neighbors they could visit.
When DeFranza told the residents about the planned renovations last winter, he said the response was a room filled with applause. The residents knew their homes at Pigeon Cove Ledges could become more permanent with the upgrades, he said.
You want people to stay here comfortably as long as they want. It’s cheaper and it’s better for people’s quality of life, DeFranza said.
Doris King shared a circular table under the tent with a handful of other residents Friday afternoon. She insisted on others trying the chocolates, sandwiches and appetizers, as she settled into a chair.
Having lived at the housing complex for 20 years, King said she’s seen some wonderful changes. But, she said, the added elevator and cosmetic lift by Harborlight were the most remarkable.
This is extra, extra change for us, King said. We’re always having little changes done for us, but never as big as this.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photographs by: Desi Smith/Gloucester Daily Times