Work continues at Stern Village

The construction crews have been at work six days a week for the past two months at Stern Village — and the progress is starting to become noticeable.

“Every day there’s some banging somewhere,” said Executive Director Harriett Polansky at a meeting of Stern Village residents July 11.

Since work began in May the walking paths have been repaved, and numerous units have been renovated in the independent living village. Improvements have included new floors and windows, new insulation, and updated HVAC. Some units also have been upgraded to ADA compliance, which includes lower counters and cabinets, and wider bathrooms with floor-level shower entry to facilitate use by residents who are in wheelchairs.

The residents have mostly borne the various inconveniences with a smile. As the units receive their updates, some have opted to move into the newly redone homes. Others have left their homes to live in a renovated one while theirs is updated, then to return when their home is finished.

That’s the situation Gus and Joyce Aquino have found themselves in. The couple moved from one side of their duplex to the other while workers went to work on theirs. Despite now having their temporary home furnished and arranged to their taste, Joyce said they couldn’t wait to get back to their own home.

“As soon as it’s ready, we’re going back,” she said.

Gus agreed. After 10 years in their Stern Village one-bedroom, he said he was having trouble getting used to the unit on the other side of the building.

“Everything’s on the other side from what I’m used to,” he said.

Still, the couple said the inconvenience was well worth it.

“It makes me happy to see the improvements,” Joyce said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

But of all the work happening around the village.

To be sure, not everything is picture perfect at Stern Village. At the meeting residents lodged various complaints ranging from traffic and parking to the potential of rodent and insect infiltration during the insulation upgrades.

But the parking situation is the one causing the most concern among residents. The village has just one access road from Hedgehog Circle, which means that the work to repave the village’s roads and parking lots must progress in two phases, Polansky said.

“From the day I started, I’ve been hearing, “roads, roads, roads, roads, roads,” Polansky said. “Finally, we’re getting new roads.”

But the split work, repaving one side, then the other, will mean that for at least a few weeks the village will lose about half its parking. Polansky said the town was still weighing options.

“We have 201 parking spaces, and currently 102 residents have a car,” she said. But once the residents and employees of the village’s congregate building are added to the mix, there is simply not enough parking to accomodate the village’s needs if half of the complex is being repaved.

Polansky said she has received assurances from the town that residents who park in the village’s circle and access areas, which are normally off limits, would not be ticketed. She is also looking into arrangements to have overflow parking at a local church or Hillcrest Middle School. Neither of those options is ideal, though. Church lots tend to have lots of space available 6 1/2 days a week, but need space for Sunday worshippers to park. Hillcrest Middle School has plenty of space, at least for the next few weeks until school starts. But it is more than a mile from Stern Village. Polansky said the parking solution may have to entail running a shuttle continually from the village to the school for the duration of the paving.

Whatever the solution, Polansky said she was confident the residents would pull through together.

“We truly are a village,” she said. “We help each other.”