“They were great, just great,” said Life Springs Inc. member Linda Laskey of Poland after she and eight members of the 12-member group heard two hours of presentations from students in the computer drafting and design class at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

Life Springs Inc. includes Poland and Mechanic Falls residents intent on building 12 to 14 independent living units with one to two bedrooms each for ambulatory seniors ages 55 and older. The group organized as a nonprofit corporation in 2007 to look for grants and other funding sources in its attempt to address the lack of senior housing in Poland, a town of about 6,000 year-round residents.

While Mechanic Falls has two senior housing complexes, Poland has none. Town Manager Dana Lee said there was an attempt to build such housing by a developer several years ago. But when the real estate market went soft, the criteria for the home construction and sales was broadened beyond senior-specific housing.

This past year, the group began to focus its attention on finding appropriate land and designing the housing units to meet grant application criteria.

That’s when the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School students became involved, said computer design class teacher John Bell.

Bell said he was approached by the Life Springs group last fall and was asked if his class could provide drawings for a senior living community. Students in his class have worked on other town projects before — such as designing a police station in the town-acquired Hebert Roberts house on Danforth Street in Norway in 2007.

At the beginning of the school year, the students were given a list of criteria on which to base their designs. The list included ensuring seniors could live independently, accommodating handicapped residents, including south-facing porches and making the project economical.

Life Springs members said the designs were creative and practical.

“I tried to limit the paving due to the expense,” said Matt Farnum during his presentation. “Where we can eliminate costs, I figure that’s a good thing to do.”

Dan Taylor’s units featured larger rooms, including a 7- by 6-foot-wide bathroom. “I tried to put as much space as I could so it was wheelchair accessible,” he told the group.

Kyle Farrar said his design tried to capture the “true beauty” of living in Maine while keeping the units independent, private and friendly for the whole community.

“My community invites both single and couple residents to a peaceful living complex without any downfalls that come with large apartment complexes,” he wrote in the preface of his design packet. His design featured covered entrances and patios, paved sidewalks and walkways, and scenic views.

Jonathan Cipolloso’s design featured units with large central living and kitchen areas.

Many of the students ensured space for entertainment centers and kept in mind they were dealing with older people who may want covered patios so they wouldn’t have to shovel snow. The students’ goal was to make sure the residents felt independent in their living quarters.

In his introduction, Farnum thanked the Life Springs group for the opportunity, writing, “It has been a pleasure and the real life experience that we have gained from the project has given each and every one of us a sense of what it is to be a real architect, or at least a semi-legitimate architect.”

“Awesome, just awesome,” said one member after seeing the presentations.

Laskey, a retired Poland teacher, and other members of the group had high praise for the students’ work and asked if they could use some of the designs in an upcoming community meeting in Poland where Laskey will talk about the group’s goals.

“I really want to showcase your class,” she told Bell after the presentations.

The Life Springs group will meet with the students again to further refine the designs after they review the presentations in more detail. Laskey said she will make a presentation to the community March 14 at a potluck supper at Ricker Memorial Library on Route 26.

The dinner, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Library, will start at 6 p.m. followed by the speaking program at 7 p.m. Library Director Joanne Messer said participants are asked to bring a dish to share if they intend to join the supper. Others may attend the speaking program at 7 p.m. The event is open to the public.

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